Though breast cancer is 100 times more likely to occur in women than in men, recent studies have found that the disease may be more dangerous for men. No matter how rare, male breast cancer is a serious matter and certainly nothing to be embarrassed about.
According to the study, the overall survival rates for men with breast cancer are lower than those for women when it is diagnosed in an early stage. To make matters worse, many men don’t even know male breast cancer exists, and thus do not consult their doctors about any issues that may be a result of breast cancer. Therefore, the diagnosis can come at a much later stage.
Men have breast tissue that develops in the same way as breast tissue in women, and that tissue is susceptible to cancer cells in the same way. Breast cancer is less common for men because male breasts have ducts that are less developed and are not exposed to growth-promoting female hormones.
Any man can develop male breast cancer, but here are some factors that may increase the risk:
• Male breast cancer is most common among men age 60–70.
• Excessive alcohol use.
• Radiation treatment to the chest.
• High estrogen levels.
• Having several female relatives who have had breast cancer, especially those with a mutation of the BRCA2 gene, can be a risk factor.
Women are encouraged to perform breast self-exams and also have regular mammograms at an advanced age. Experts agree this isn’t necessary for men, but it doesn’t hurt to know what to look out for. Male breast cancer symptoms can be similar to those experienced by women and may include:
• Lumps in the breast, usually painless
• Thickening of the breast
• Changes to the nipple or breast skin, such as dimpling, puckering or redness
• Discharge of fluid from the nipples
If you notice any of these symptoms, do not be afraid to inform your doctor. Some men might be embarrassed to think that they might have what’s considered a “women’s disease,” but it is simply just another form of cancer. Seeking help from your doctor could save your life, so put the bravado aside if you notice any changes in your chest or any other alarming symptoms.