The Breast Cancer Few People Talk About

During October, breast cancer awareness month, you will hear a lot about how one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime and that it is the second leading cause of death among women. But did you know that breast cancer can also occur in men? One percent of all breast cancer cases occur in men, that sounds small but that’s over 2,000 cases every year and 400 of those cases are expected to be fatal.

Men and women are both born with breast tissue and cells, which is why both genders are at risk of developing breast cancer. Like breast cancer in women, the prognosis is good if it’s caught early. But because of the lack of awareness, many men dismiss early symptoms and signs of breast cancer, resulting in a late diagnosis after the cancer has spread. And while women get mammograms, there is not a routine screening for male breast cancer. Therefore, it is especially important to know the signs.

Symptoms of male breast cancer include:

  • Painless lump or thickening in breast tissue
  • Changes to the skin covering your breast, like dimpling, redness or scaling
  • Changes to your nipple, such as redness or it begins to turn inward
  • Discharge from your nipple

The cause of male breast cancer is unknown, but risk factors include high levels of the hormone estrogen, a family history of breast cancer and mutations to the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Other risk factors include exposure to radiation, obesity (a higher number of fat cells may result in increased estrogen) and liver disease.

Male breast cancer is usually treated by surgically removing the breast tissue and specific lymph nodes. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy and targeted therapy may also be used to treat male breast cancer. Awareness is key to early detection. Men and women should be sure to give themselves regular self-examinations to know when there is a change.

Are you or a loved one battling breast cancer? These blogs may help you with the challenges:

Photo credit:Will Foster


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