Breast Cancer Awareness Month is so important because it highlights something we all would rather ignore, but the effects of which we all feel. However, during this month, we so often forget that women are not the only victims of breast cancer. While it is rare for men to get breast cancer, it is not unknown.
Despite the rare occurrence of breast cancer in men, it is important that they are aware and educated about the symptoms of the disease; this will ensure that diagnosis and treatment can take place in a timely manner. The mortality rate for men with breast cancer is generally higher than that for women simply due to a lack of awareness leading to delay in detection and treatment.
Breast cancer in men is generally more aggressive than in women. Most men who have it usually have a family history of cancer.
Here’s What You Need To Know About Breast Cancer in Men:
Most times, male breast cancer is diagnosed in its later stages
Many men are not even aware that breast cancer does not only affect women but such early symptoms such as painless lumps and flaking are also often overlooked. By the time more serious symptoms such as bleeding from the nipples appear and a doctor’s visit is finally made, the disease is already in its most severe stages – and the risk of death is higher.
Genetics play a part in male breast cancer risk
If there is a history of breast cancer in your family, you will be at an increased risk of contracting the disease yourself. It doesn’t matter whether your loved ones are women or men – the genetic mutation transmitted is the same.
Although you may not have the disease today, you may have inherited the mutated gene (BRCA1) from close relatives. Consider getting genetic testing and genetic counseling to find out your risk factor and keep a closer eye on your own health.
Obesity and radiation exposure can increase the chances of contracting breast cancer in men
To prevent any kind of illness, it is important to stay in shape, and it is no different for breast cancer. Obese men are more likely to develop breast cancer due to the higher amount of estrogen in their bodies, and estrogen stimulates the growth of breast cells, whether healthy or abnormal.
Other factors that contribute to higher estrogen levels:
- Aging – as you age, testosterone drops and estrogen levels increase
- Hormones in food – some animals have been given estrogen to make them grow faster
- Excessive drinks or liver problems – an unhealthy liver will not be able to properly regulate estrogen levels
Other than the above, having your chest exposed to radiation (for example, treatment for lymphoma) can also increase the risk.
Men should get tested for breast cancer too
Breast cancer screenings are mainly for women, but men can also follow them. Since the occurrence of male breast cancer is already very small, there is no real need for screening as frequently as women. But it will do you good to do a breast self-exam from time to time to check for any irregularities – especially if you are at high risk.
If you find something suspicious, consult your doctor immediately. You will receive a clinical breast exam and, in some cases, a mammogram to check for malignant tumors.
Treatment options are readily available
Men with breast cancer have a variety of treatment options, depending on the stage of their illness, including radiation therapy, chemotherapy, mastectomy, and hormone therapy.
Most forms of male breast cancer require anti-estrogen therapy, says Dr. Cate. This removes the hormone estrogen, which fuels the spread of certain breast cancers.
Not like women, they have only one option for breast cancer surgery.
Many women, on the other hand, may choose to have a lumpectomy, which preserves much of their breast tissue. (Women can also choose to have reconstruction procedures to rebuild their breasts after breast cancer surgery.)
Lumps are a significant symptom of breast cancer in men
Men can experience a lump when diagnosed with breast cancer, just like women. “Most men have a lump, often behind the areola,” says the darker area of skin around the nipple, says Dr. Gucalp.
For men, a lump or lump is the most obvious sign, while breast cancer in women is often found during a routine mammogram or breast screening. They do not have regular mammograms since breast cancer is rare in men.