Male Breast Cancer Awareness
Men’s Health Week is June 10–16, making June a good time for men to take stock of their health and to raise awareness about the many issues that can affect men’s health, including male breast cancer. Each year, about 390 men are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK.
Although generally considered a “woman’s disease”, men can develop breast cancer. For example, Peter Criss, the original drummer from the rock band Kiss, has spoken out about his diagnosis and successful treatment of breast cancer to help raise breast cancer awareness among men.
Here at Health Edco, we have an innovative line of men’s health education resources, including informative models, displays, and leaflets that help men understand the importance of testicular self-exams and prostate exams for the early detection of cancer. We also offer our Men’s Breast Cancer Awareness Model, an important teaching tool to educate men about male breast cancer.
Awareness Model contains two palpable lumps.
How Can Men Get Breast Cancer?
Even though men don’t have female breasts, they do have breast tissue—usually a small amount located under the nipple and areola (the darker area around the nipple). Although breast cancer in men is rare, it can be fatal. For example, it is estimated that about 75 men in the UK died from breast cancer in 2014.
The survival rates for male breast cancer are similar to those for female breast cancer when it is found at the same stage. However, men may be less likely to detect breast cancer early because they often do not even realise that they can develop it. Men also may be more likely to delay visiting their GP until they have more serious symptoms, when the cancer may have already spread.
The best defence against male breast cancer is to catch it in its early stages when it is usually most curable. The first step to early detection is to learn the risk factors for male breast cancer and its warning signs.
What Are the Risk Factors for Male Breast Cancer?
Any man can develop breast cancer. However, some men may be more likely to develop it. Factors that can increase the risk for male breast cancer include:
- Age—Most cases develop in men between the ages of 60 and 70.
- Family history of breast cancer—Having close female or male relatives who have had breast cancer can increase the risk.
- Inherited gene mutations—Men with a mutation in the BRCA2 gene have an increased risk of breast cancer. Often, this gene mutation is found in families that have multiple cases of breast cancer or ovarian cancer.
- Exposure to radiation—Having the chest exposed to radiation, which is usually the result of medical treatment, can increase the risk.
- Excessive alcohol use—Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol may increase the risk.
- Oestrogen treatment—Drugs related to oestrogens (female hormones) are sometimes prescribed for prostate cancer and may slightly increase the risk. However, the risks of these drugs are minimal compared to their benefits. Taking higher levels of oestrogen can substantially increase the risk.
- Klinefelter syndrome—Men with Klinefelter syndrome are born with one or more extra X chromosomes. Increased breast size and a higher risk for breast cancer may result.
- Liver Disease—Liver disease, such as cirrhosis, can increase breast growth and may result in a higher risk for breast cancer.
- Testicular Conditions—Certain testicular conditions, such as having inflamed testicles, having one or both testicles removed, or having the mumps as an adult may increase the risk for male breast cancer.
- Obesity and physical activity—Being obese and physically inactive may increase the risk for male breast cancer as well as other types of cancer.
What Are the Warning Signs?
Possible warning signs of male breast cancer include:
- A lump, swelling, or thickening in the breast or underarm area
- Changes in the skin covering the breast, such as puckering
- Nipple inversion (turning inward)
- Redness or scaling of the nipple or surrounding skin
- Discharge from the nipple
- Pulling sensation in the breast area
If a man notices any of these warning signs, he should consult his GP or other healthcare professional as soon as possible. Most breast lumps are not cancer, but any lump should be examined by a healthcare professional.
What Else Can a Man Do to Help Protect Himself?
Breast self-awareness means being aware of the normal look and feel of your breasts so that you will be aware of any changes that occur and can notify your GP or other healthcare professional. A man can practice breast self-awareness by examining his nipple area regularly for lumps or other warning signs of cancer.
Our Men’s Breast Cancer Awareness Model is an ideal teaching tool to help raise awareness of men’s breast cancer with patients. Featuring the feel of real skin tissue, the model has two lumps that simulate the feel of breast lumps in men.
comes with a carrying case and instruction card.
In addition to doing self-checks for signs of male breast cancer, men can take other steps to help reduce their risk for male breast cancer or catch male breast cancer early:
- Have regular medical checkups—A man can help maximise his chances for early detection of breast cancer by visiting his GP or another healthcare professional for regular health exams.
- Maintain a healthy body weight—Eat a healthy diet, and get at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most (or all) days of the week.
- Limit alcohol intake.
If you have any questions about male breast cancer or your individual risk for male breast cancer, talk to your GP or other healthcare professional.
To learn more about our educational line of men’s health products, please visit our Men’s Health Section.
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