Men Need to Know Breast Cancer Isn’t Just for Women

Breast lumps shouldn’t be ignored or passed off for something incidental Breast lumps shouldn’t be ignored or passed off for something incidental 

1710977384DAYTON, Ohio (August 13, 2018) – Breast cancer may be widely known as a woman’s disease, but that doesn’t mean men are immune from developing it.

Men and women are both born with breast cells and tissue that are susceptible to breast cancer. It is uncommon for men to develop breast cancer, but it does occur. Less than 1 percent of all breast cancer cases include men, and only one in a thousand men will ever be diagnosed with the disease, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF).

“For every 100 hundred women who get breast cancer, we’ll have one man who does as well,” said Thomas Heck, MD, a surgeon with Gem City Surgical Breast Care Center. “Obviously, the odds of a man getting breast cancer is a lot less, but it’s not zero. Men need to be aware that breast cancer does occur in the male population.”

Unlike women, men do not have yearly physical exams specifically for breast cancer nor do they undergo regular imaging such as a mammogram. For that reason, a man will often discover he has breast cancer by seeing or feeling a lump underneath the nipple or areola. 

Unfortunately, men often delay having a lump evaluated because they may think it is a result of an injury or an issue that will eventually go away, said Dr. Heck, who practices with Premier Physician Network.

“Men who may feel a lump in the breast shouldn’t ignore it,” he said. “Because men don’t typically see breast cancer as a type of cancer that can develop on them, they may delay getting that initial exam.”

The likelihood that a man will develop breast cancer in his lifetime may be low, but it’s important for men to keep the following in mind:

Prevention applies to you – Women aren’t the only ones who need to take steps to reduce their risk for breast cancer. A man can reduce his risk for cancer by focusing on three key areas of his life. This includes maintaining a healthy weight, making sure alcohol consumption is at a moderate to low level and exercising regularly.

You can’t afford to ignore – Talk to a health care provider as soon as you discover a lump or mass in your breast tissue. Don’t wait to see if it will go away or shrug it off as a minor bump. Men carry a higher mortality than women when it comes to breast cancer simply because they wait to be diagnosed, according to the NBCF.

Genetic testing may apply to you – Dr. Heck recommends all men diagnosed with breast cancer consult with a geneticist. Men who have breast cancer have a much higher risk for carrying a genetic mutation such as the BRCA gene, BRCA1 or BRCA2. The presence of a gene mutation can change his surgery to include a double mastectomy. It also increases his risk for prostate cancer, and means his children carry a 50 percent chance of carrying the gene as well.

Dr. Heck said breast cancer may be thought of as a woman’s disease, but in the end the reality of cancer helps men to quickly overcome any struggle with stereotypes.

“Yes, breast cancer is widely seen as a disease that affects women, but from my experience, men who discover they have it accept it for what it really is – cancer,” Dr. Heck said.

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