Each October the world lends its attention to Breast Cancer Awareness but little light is shed on breast cancer in men. This year we’d like to focus on the smaller but still significant number of men diagnosed with breast cancer.
When you hear the term breast cancer, you immediately think of women, mainly because breast cancer in men is rare, affecting a little over 2,500 men compared to the 287,850 cases involving women in 2022 alone.
But don’t be fooled, just because the numbers are less does not mean the gravity is less. At this point, the severity between both sexes is about even. This is mainly because men just aren’t used to worrying about breast cancer, so cases of breast cancer in men are usually diagnosed at a later stage than in women.
Considering this, we’ve decided to turn our attention to breast cancer awareness in men this October. Let’s explore the topic a little further, with a focus on men.
About Breast Cancer in Men
As we noted above, there are a little over 2,500 new cases of breast cancer in men each year, but when it comes to fatalities, men edged out women by a whopping 4%. What makes this such a remarkable number is the fact that breast cancer in men represents only 1% of the total cases found in women, so you would think fatality rates would be less.
Again, we go back to the contrast between early detection in men versus that of women. The truth is, while men’s breasts do not form or appear like women’s, nor can they breastfeed, they still have breast tissue, which makes them susceptible to breast cancer. And because this type of cancer is rare in men, there aren’t even any recommended screenings to undergo; it is really up to the individual to monitor for any signs of breast cancer.
Type of Breast Cancer in Men
- Invasive Lobular Carcinoma
- Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS)
- Inflammatory Breast Cancer
- Paget’s Disease of the Breast
What Symptoms of Breast Cancer Should Men Look For?
Much like breast cancer in women, men should check their breasts for lumps. These lumps are usually not painful, don’t move around much when touched, and are hard or firm to the touch. Other signs to look for include:
- any form of discharge from the nipple
- sores or rashes around the nipple that don’t go away
- an inverting nipple
- hardness on the nipple or the area around the nipple
- redness or swelling on or around the nipple
- swollen glands in the armpits
Which Men Are at Greater Risk of Developing Breast Cancer?
While cancer does not choose its victims, early diagnosis and treatment are critical in mitigating risk. Some of the major risk factors that contribute to cases of breast cancer in men include:
- Age: most breast cancer in men occurs after the age of 50, usually between the ages of 60 and 70
- Inherited Risk: men with gene mutations like BRCA1 and BRCA2 and Klinefelter syndrome are at greater risk
- Therapy Treatments: men who have undergone hormone or radiation therapy are at higher risk
- Disease: cirrhosis of the liver has been known to increase the risk in men
- Issues with Testes: men who have injured or surgically removed their testicles, or experienced swelling in the testicles, have shown a higher risk
This does not mean that men experiencing any of these things will get cancer, just that these increase the likelihood.
Can Breast Cancer be Prevented in Men?
While we can’t determine where and when breast cancer will occur, men can work to minimize their risk. In short, maintaining a healthy diet, minimizing alcohol intake and a regular exercise routine will help keep your body healthy and lower the risk of developing cancer.
- Although cases of breast cancer are fewer in men, they are not immune to it.
- A healthy body, early detection, and treatment are key in minimizing the effects of cancer if it does develop.
- Men with certain risk factors should be vigilant in their monitoring.
- Men diagnosed with breast cancer can review these key questions with their physician
- Cancer.org has resources for men who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
All throughout the month, we are sharing prevention tips on our Instagram. If you haven’t yet, give us a follow here!
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Battling Breast Cancer in Men: Tips for Early Detection was originally published in Think Dirty on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.