Men Can Get Breast Cancer Too!
Post by Erica Kuhn, Manager, Health Publications, Susan G. Komen
Five years ago I “virtually” met Christine – a passionate advocate of male breast cancer. Christine tells everyone – everywhere she goes, whether she knows them or not – that men can get breast cancer. Why? Because Christine lost her beloved husband, Paul, to the disease, and vowed to advocate for and educate people about male breast cancer for the rest of her life.
I have never forgotten her. She touched me, and continues to inspire me to help Komen promote male breast cancer education and awareness. Komen has had a huge impact on the breast cancer movement, investing more than $2.5 billion for our mission to save lives and end this terrible disease. I believe it’s our job and our passion to remind the world that our vision of a world without breast cancer includes male breast cancer. I feel I owe it to her and her husband – no, it’s more than that. I want to do what we can to spread the message.
It’s a simple message, really: “Men get breast cancer too!” The statistics may be low, but still about one percent of all breast cancer cases in the U.S. occur in men. That means this year alone about 2,360 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men, and 430 will die. Those are our husbands, fathers, grandfathers, uncles and our friends.
That’s why today, while we celebrate the men in our lives, we also encourage family members to talk to each other about male breast cancer. We encourage doctors to talk to their patients about it. Learn all you can.
Here are some important facts you should know:
- Although some factors have been found to increase the risk of breast cancer in men, most men who are diagnosed have no known risk factors (except for older age). In men, breast cancer occurs most often between ages 65 and 67.
- Breast cancer screening tests such as clinical breast exams and mammograms are not recommended for most men. However, some men at higher risk of breast cancer (such as those with a BRCA1 or BRCA 2 gene mutation or a strong family history of the disease) may benefit from screening.
If you have concerns about your risk of breast cancer, talk to your doctor.
So what should you be looking for? The most common sign of breast cancer in men is a painless lump or thickening in the breast or chest area. However, any change in the breast or nipple can be a warning sign of breast cancer, and needs to be checked. Don’t ignore it or wait too long to get help because you are embarrassed or worried. Putting off seeing a doctor may result in a delay in diagnosis. Survival is highest when breast cancer is found early.
Read about treatment options for men who are diagnosed with breast cancer.
Because most people think of breast cancer as something that only affects women, men who are diagnosed may feel isolated and alone. A man may likely be the only man with breast cancer at his treatment center, or the only man he knows with breast cancer. Finding sources of social support may help. If you have questions or concerns, call our breast care helpline at 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636). Or, check out our Message Board forum for male breast cancer survivors to talk to other male breast cancer survivors about the challenges of living with breast cancer.
So, as we approach Father’s Day, if you are lucky enough to get to spend the day with your dad, I encourage you to hug him a little longer, and be sure you tell him you love him, not just today, but every day. And, remember, spread the message: men can get breast cancer too!
About the author
Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. In 1982, that promise became Susan G. Komen and launched the global breast cancer movement. Today, Komen is the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures. Thanks to events like the Komen Race for the Cure®, we have invested more than $1.9 billion to fulfill our promise, becoming the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world.