Male breast cancer is treated in the same fashion as breast cancer in women. It is important to learn as much as possible about the treatment methods before deciding how you want to be treated. Your doctor, and health care team will be able to assist you in your decision, but it is always smart to consider a second opinion. We also recommend that you don't only limit your sources to the internet, try to find good books, or publications from cancer organizations (American Cancer Society or the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation).
Each breast cancer stage has its own type of treatment. In some cases men may only need surgery, but other times an additional therapy is needed, such as radiation, chemotherapy, or hormone therapy.
When women undergo breast cancer surgery, they often have the option of choosing breast-sparing, this is not the case for men. Because a man's breast contains much less tissue than a woman's breast, removing the cancer means removing most of the tissue. Surgery options for men are:
Simple mastectomy: the entire breast tissue is removed. Depending on follow-up tests, additional therapy may be required.
Modified radical mastectomy: this is the most common form of surgery used. This procedure involves the removal of the entire breast, and some of the underarm lymph nodes, leaving the chest muscles intact. After surgery, the lymph nodes are tested for cancer, depending on the results, additional therapy may be required.
Sentinel lymph node biopsy: This procedure is used to limit the number of lymph nodes removed. As you may know, breast cancer first spreads to the axillary (underarm) lymph nodes, doctors therefore will determine to which lymph nodes the tumor drains to first. The doctors then follow the trail of the drainage, until they find a healthy lymph node.
After surgery is completed, additional therapy is needed in order to ensure that all cancer cells have been successfully removed.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a drug based therapy used to destroy remaining cancer cells. Doctors recommend chemotherapy to kill any remaining cancer cells that could have spread outside the breast area. The treatment often involves two or more drugs, which are can be administered through an IV, pill form, or both. The treatment period is usually every 2-3 weeks for a period of 3-6 months.
Hormone therapy: Certain cancers are estrogen receptor positive, which encourages aggressive growth throughout the body. Approximately 75% of all diagnosed breast cancer in men is HER2 positive. This form of treatment uses hormonal medication that binds itself to sites of the body, preventing estrogen from reaching them. This may help eliminate cancer cells that have already spread, or reduce the chance recurrence (cancer returning).
Biological Therapy: This treatment form is meant to stimulate the patient's body to fight the cancer. It tries to enhance the body's natural immune system, which triggers the body's defense system against specific diseases. The majority of Biological Therapies are still in the experimental stage, making them only available through clinical trials.