October is breast cancer awareness month and it is celebrated by women who have been cancer-free and for those who have lost the battle, we hold them in our memories. But do you know that men also suffer from breast cancer? In 2016, about 2,600 men are expected to be diagnosed with the disease, and 440 breast cancer deaths.
The lifetime risk of being diagnosed with cancer in the breast is about 1 in 1,000. Male breast cancer is rare, but about 1% of men suffer from breast cancer. The survival rate for men is the same as women with the same stage of cancer at the time they are diagnosed. Men, however, are diagnosed at a later stage around 54-55 and men are less likely to report the symptoms to their doctors which may lead to delays in treatment. Men do not get routine screenings and don’t think they could get breast cancer, as a result when they find out, it is usually more advanced in men than women.
The symptoms of breast cancer in men are similar to those in women. Discovery of a lump in the breast or bleeding from the nipple are the major indicators, often appearing at a time when cancer would have already spread. You might be wondering how can men get breast cancer because they don’t have breasts like women. The fact is, men also have breast tissue. Although men don’t have much of the breast stimulating hormones like women, male breasts remain flat and small. Some men do have large breasts, but that is usually a lot of fat. Some men take medicine to develop breasts.
What are the chances of men getting breast cancer you might be asking? The risk of men getting breast cancer includes:
- As men age the chance increases for getting the disease. The average age is around 54-55, but some men have been diagnosed at age 68.
- High estrogen levels. Breast cell growth is stimulated by estrogen. Men taking hormonal medicines where the chance of them developing breast cancer increases.
- Being overweight increases the production of estrogen.
- Exposure of estrogen which is fed to fatten up beef cattle, products of pesticide DDT. Many of our fruits and vegetables are sprayed with these pesticides which increases estrogen in our bodies.
- Heavy use of alcohol, which can limit the liver’s ability to regulate blood estrogen levels.
- Having a strong family history of breast cancer or genetic mutations.
- Radiation exposure. If a man has been treated with radiation to the chest, such as for lymphoma, he has an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
The treatment of breast cancer includes surgery and chemotherapy. Surgery includes removal of the nipple and all of the breast tissue being removed. With breast cancer surgery, side effects include numbness of the skin and extra sensitivity to touch, fluid collecting under the scar, delayed wound healing, and risk of infection.
If you notice a change in your breast, chest area or nipple, don’t delay. Make an appointment to see your doctor! Some men might be embarrassed, but don’t put it off because it’s a chance to save your life from this deadly disease. Breast cancer is not just a woman’s disease but a man’s disease also. Start an organic diet, and exercise, because food is your medicine.
Visit the BreastCancer.org discussion board forum for men with breast cancer to get more information. Join the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk on Sunday, October 16 in Central Park. The walk is taking place throughout the different boroughs in New York City and throughout the USA.