When a man is diagnosed with breast cancer, a number of tests can be requested to determine the stage and type of cancer. This information is vital to select the right treatment plan to each patient. 

There are different types of breast cancer, and sometimes more than one type can be found in a single patient. Tumor characterization is also important to understand its chances of spreading to other parts of the body, and what the best therapy is if that has already occurred.

The procedures to diagnose male breast cancer are similar to those used in women.

A combination called “triple test”- clinical observation, imaging exams and biopsy – is used to diagnose breast changes. This is the only way to be sure if there is or not malignancy, and to identify the type of cancer.

Other complementary biochemical exams determine the sensitivity of the tumor to hormones in the blood, and if HER2 proteins produced by the tumor are stimulating its growth. 

Hormone sensitivity can occur in any type of cancer. In fact, about 90% of male breast cancers respond to estrogens (they are called ER+ due to having Estrogen Receptors) and/or hormone progesterone (PR+). Cerca de 90% dos cancros da mama masculinos são sensíveis aos estrogéneos (RE+) e/ ou à hormona progestrona (RP+).

These cancers have better prognosis, because they respond to therapies that disrupt this hormonal dependence, blocking their growth. The drug tamoxifen, for example, can be used to block estrogen receptors in a tumor.

Tumors overexpressing HER2 , on the other hand, are less common. They are called HER2+, and can also be treated with targeted therapies

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