Can Men Get Inflammatory Breast Cancer?

While inflammatory breast cancer is rare, breast cancer in men is also rare, accounting for less than 1% of all breast cancer cases. Men have less breast tissue than women, but they can still develop cancer in their breast ducts or lobules. The most common type of breast cancer in men is invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), which starts in the breast ducts and can spread to other tissues. Non-invasive breast cancers, such as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) or lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), are very uncommon in men.

The statistics for inflammatory breast cancer in men are not well-known, because it is such a rare condition. However, some sources provide some estimates based on available data.

  • According to the American Cancer Society, about 2,800 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2023, and about 530 men will die from breast cancer. The lifetime risk of getting breast cancer for men is about 1 in 833. Breast cancer is about 100 times less common among white men than among white women, and about 70 times less common among black men than among black women.
  • According to Yale Medicine, IBC makes up only between 1–5% of all breast cancer cases in the U.S. It affects women at younger ages than other forms of breast cancer, often occurring in women under 40, but it has a median age at diagnosis of 57. And though it is rare, IBC can also occur in men.
  • According to Cancer Research UK, breast cancer in men is rare, with around 370 men diagnosed each year in the UK. This compares to around 55,500 cases in women. Less than 1% of breast cancer cases in the UK are in males.

Based on these sources, we can estimate that the number of inflammatory breast cancer cases in men is very low, probably less than 100 per year in the U.S. and less than 20 per year in the UK. The survival rate for IBC is lower than for other types of breast cancer, because it is often diagnosed at a later stage and because it is more likely to spread to other organs. The survival rate for breast cancer in men is also lower than for women, because men tend to have larger tumors, higher hormone levels, and less awareness of the signs and symptoms.

Our friend and fellow inflammatory breast cancer patient, Rod Ritchie, shared his cancer story with a local news outlet in 2017. Our thanks to Rod and others who are willing to talk openly about their diagnosis and treatment to help people understand that breast cancer is not a gender specific disease.

Read: Male breast cancer survivor calls for more awareness.