Yes, Men Can Get Breast Cancer

Jennifer R. Povey
4 min readOct 14, 2021
Photo by Dollar Gill on Unsplash

Yes, guys. You probably don’t think of yourself as having breasts, but your bodies are designed so that a bit of female hormone (just ask a trans woman. Or a cis man with the unfortunate condition of gynecomastia)…and poof. Breasts.

Which means cis men have a bit of breast tissue and that tissue can, in rare cases, become cancerous.

What Are the Risks?

According to the American Cancer Society, the lifetime risk of a cis man getting breast cancer is about 1 in 833. This compares to a 1 in 8 risk for cis women.

Which makes it forgivable that the majority of men don’t even think about the risk.

Trans women who have taken hormones have a higher risk than cis men but lower than cis women. Trans men who are on hormones but have not had top surgery also have a risk somewhere between the two.

So, the risk of getting breast cancer, as a cis man, is very low, but the key here is that it is not nonexistent.

What Can Raise Your Risk?

The primary risk elevator is that pesky BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. Just as with women, having a mutation on these genes can raise your risk substantially.

If you have a first degree female relative with breast cancer, get tested. If you have a close male relative with breast cancer, get tested now.

Other risk factors are:

  • Being older than 50.
  • Having had radiation therapy in the chest area.
  • Having been prescribed any kind of drugs containing estrogen. These drugs are less commonly given now, but are still sometimes used to treat hormone sensitive prostate cancer, especially late stage.
  • Injury to the testicles or having had an orchidectomy.
  • Liver disease.
  • Excessive weight.
  • Gynecomastia. This is when a hormone imbalance causes you to produce more breast tissue. It’s most common as a transient issue during puberty, but adult gynecomastia can increase risk significantly.
  • Klinefelter syndrome.
  • Ashkenazic Jewish descent (there’s probably a genetic mutation there we haven’t found…
Jennifer R. Povey

I write about fantasy, science fiction and horror, LGBT issues, travel, and social issues.