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Men with breast cancer > Treatment options for men

Treatment options for men

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Most men will have mastectomy, which is surgery to remove all of their breast tissue on the side of their chest where they have cancer. This is partly because they have less breast tissue than women, so asymmetry is less of a problem after mastectomy in men. Experts believe less than 14 percent of men have a lumpectomy, which is surgery to remove only the tumor and a margin of tissue around it. Most men also have lymph nodes removed from under the arm to find out whether or not the cancer has spread out of the breast itself.

After surgery, you may have radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or hormonal therapy. Which combination of these your doctor recommends will depend on the subtype of the breast cancer, the stage of the cancer, and your risk of recurrence. Men are more likely to get hormonal therapy than women because more men than women are diagnosed with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. More than 90 percent of men will be offered either tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor as part of their treatment. View our treatments page to learn more about each type of treatment.

There is little research that is specifically about treating male breast cancer because most large breast cancer clinical trials enroll women. Today, more and more clinical trials are accepting men with breast cancer to help close that gap in knowledge. Still, you can find comfort in knowing that male breast cancer seems to be well-managed by the therapies used for women with breast cancer.

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Reviewed and updated: October 24, 2016

Reviewed by: Kathryn Ruddy, MD, MPH

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