Male Breast Cancer Requires Action

The ICD-10-CM codes for male breast cancer are found in category C50.

As you may know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Male breast cancer accounts for 1 percent of breast cancer diagnoses. In terms of numbers, this equates to 2,300 cases annually.  

Men are more likely to die within five years of a diagnosis of breast cancer, because they are often diagnosed in advanced stages. The annual deaths among men with breast cancer is approximately 500. The survival rate among men is 77.6 percent, which is worse in comparison to the women’s rate of 86.4 percent.

The risk factors for male breast cancer include the following:

  • Age (usually discovered after age 40);
  • Inherited genetic mutations (BRCA2);
  • Prior radiation therapy to chest or hormonal therapies containing estrogen;
  • Weight (overweight or obese);
  • Family history of breast or ovarian cancer;
  • Liver disease; and
  • Klinefelter’s syndrome (an extra X chromosome in a male).

The signs and symptoms of male breast cancer include a painless lump or thickening of breast tissue; changes in the breast skin, including dimpling, puckering, or redness; changes to the nipple, including redness, scaling, or inversion; or a discharge from the nipple. It is important not to delay checking with a physician regarding any of these symptoms.

An issue with research is that men are not usually recruited for clinical trials for breast cancer. The reason is because the occurrence is rare among men.

The tests used to diagnose female breast cancer can be used to diagnose male breast cancer – mammogram, ultrasound, MRI, blood chemistry tests, and biopsy. Treatment will depend on the type of cancer and can vary, including surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiation, and targeted therapy. Targeted therapy uses drugs that will attack specific cancer cells. The targeted therapy drugs include monoclonal antibodies, tyrosine kinase inhibitors, cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors, and rapamycin inhibitors. After treatment, men should continue to follow up with their physicians to monitor for re-occurrence. 

The ICD-10-CM codes for male breast cancer are found in category C50. Male breast cancer is also differentiated by laterality and quadrant, with the fifth character being a “2.” The third character in the code will specify the quadrant, which can be upper-inner, upper-outer, lower-inner, and/or lower-outer. The central portion of the breast can also be identified, as well as axillary tail or nipple and areola portions. The sixth character will indicate laterality of right, left, or unspecified site. The code for a male with breast cancer of the upper-outer quadrant of the right breast is C50.421. Malignancy of the skin of the breast can be found in subcategory C44.5. The fifth character in this subcategory will identify the type of cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma. It should be noted that skin cancer of the breast does not specify gender.  

To prevent this horrible disease in men, they should also do monthly breast exams. If a lump is found, then seek a professional opinion. Also, know your family history! Action is another key factor in catching breast cancer early….and men do get breast cancer.

Programming Note: Listen to Laurie Johnson’s live coding reports every Tuesday on Talk Ten Tuesdays, 10 Eastern.


Laurie M. Johnson, MS, RHIA, FAHIMA, AHIMA Approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainer

Laurie Johnson is currently a senior healthcare consultant for Revenue Cycle Solutions, based in Pittsburgh, Pa. Laurie is an AHIMA-approved ICD-10-CM/PCS trainer. She has more than 35 years of experience in health information management and specializes in coding and related functions. She has been a featured speaker in over 40 conferences. Laurie is a member of the ICD10monitor editorial board and is a permanent panelist on Talk Ten Tuesdays

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