top of page
  • Writer's pictureSurviving Breast Cancer

Men: Know Your Breast Cancer Risk

Updated: Jun 22, 2023

By Rod Ritchie


So very often, when it comes to getting timely treatment for a nagging symptom, or indeed other health matters, men can be their own worst enemies. And nowhere is ignorance more prevalent than with breast cancer.





Breast cancer isn’t always on men’s radar


Even men who are careful about their diet and exercise regularly can be unaware of their breast cancer risk. While heart disease and depression present obvious red flags that early medical attention can help overcome, breast cancer is not on most men’s radars.


All the pink hoopla put out as fundraising efforts by the breast cancer charities has led men to believe they can’t get this disease. Knowledge is power, and since breast cancer is a genderless disease, know your risks and the symptoms.

For the one percent of breast cancers that occur in men, outcomes tend to be less favorable than in women. Often because it never occurs to men, or their doctors, cancer may be a possibility. According to Stephen T. Sinatra M.D., by the time men seek help for their symptoms their malignancies are usually more advanced and more lethal. (1)

Signs of male breast cancer

Richard Bleicher, M.D., a surgeon at the Fox Chase Cancer Center, points out that 15% of the men diagnosed with breast cancer have a genetic mutation in their BRCA gene. Try to learn about your family medical history, and if breast, ovarian or prostate cancers are known in close relatives, this can be an indication for you to be on the lookout and even talk to your doctor about your potential risk. (2)

In any case, if you find a lump:

  • Ascertain if it is new in the breast or in the armpit and that it has been present for more than a few weeks.

  • Don’t be complacent and don’t wait. Any new finding that persists for more than a few weeks should be brought to a doctor’s attention.

  • If you do need to be evaluated, find a breast cancer specialist who is very familiar with the disease.


What does treatment look like for men?

A sonogram or a mammogram followed by a biopsy will determine if you have breast cancer. Treatment involves one of, or a combination of, breast surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

Hormone therapy, in the form of a daily tablet, follows for at least five years. Fortunately, early-stage breast cancer has a high survival rate, so the incentive to be proactive with a diagnosis of this disease is certainly there.

Breast cancer is just not something you think about in June for Men’s Health Month, so get yourself up to speed on your risks, the symptoms, and your family history.


And if, when you are first diagnosed, you are unhappy with your evaluation, or find that you are not getting plain answers to your questions, or that you are being dismissed with little explanation, seek a second opinion.

Finally, take a friend or relative to the appointment and take notes that you can refer to later. And remember, the only dumb question is the one you don’t ask.



Learn More:


References:

  1. Sinatra, Stephen. Can Men Get Breast Cancer? Available at: https://heartmdinstitute.com/health-and-wellness/can-men-get-breast-cancer. Accessed on 6/23/22.

  2. Bleicher, Richard et al. Time to Surgery and Breast Cancer Survival in the United States. Available at: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaoncology/fullarticle/2474438. Accessed on 6/23/22.


Author bio:

Rod Ritchie is a Sydney-born writer, internet publisher, and breast cancer patient activist, living with breast and prostate cancers. Currently, he’s NED for both. He’s President, Board of Directors, Male Breast Cancer Global Alliance, has a website at MaleBC.org and you can follow him on Twitter @malefitness.

His articles for Health Union can be found here.



SurvivingBreastCancer.org Resources & Support:



190 views

Comments


Meditation Mondays:

Chakra Chanting with Gloria

Mondays at 10:00 a.m. ET 

RSVP

Thursday Night Thrivers:

All Stages Support Group

Thursdays at 7:00 p.m. ET

RSVP

 

Thursday Night Thrivers:

Metastatic Breast Cancer Support Group

First and third Thursdays

of the month at 7:00 p.m. ET

RSVP

 

Thursday Night Thrivers:

Inflammatory Breast Cancer Support Group

Second Thursday

of the month at 7:00 p.m. ET

RSVP

The Caregiver Huddle

Third Tuesday

of the month at 7:00 p.m. ET

RSVP

Tuesday Night Thrivers

Después de un Diagnóstico:

Grupo de Apoyo en Español

2do y Cuarto Martes de cada mes 

7:00 p.m. ET

RSVP​

Encourage and Empower

For Newly Diagnosed

September 10, 11:00 a.m. ET

RSVP

Breast Cancer Book Club

The first Sunday of the month

RSVP

Pilates

July 19,  10:00 a.m. ET

RSVP

Restorative Yoga:

Unearthing Opportunities

July 15 ,  5:30 p.m. ET

RSVP

Reflect & Recharge

Expressive Writing

July 22,  6:00 p.m. ET

RSVP

Art Therapy

August 5, 6:00 p.m. ET

RSVP

Yoga Fitness with Chair Assist

August 13, 11:30 a.m. ET

RSVP

Forest Bathing

August 13,  6:00 p.m. ET

RSVP

Yoga Stretching for DIEP flap

August 20,  6:00 p.m. ET

RSVP

Más eventos en español

RSVP

Upcoming Events

1

Surviving Breast Cancer provides breast cancer support, events, and webinars at no cost to you! Whether you are looking to gain more knowledge on a particular topic or meet up with other breast cancer survivors, we have something for everyone. 

2

Our standing appointment on Thursdays is for all stages. We also host specific breakout groups once a month for specific stages and subtypes such as Metastatic breast cancer, and Inflammatory Breast Cancer, etc. 

3

The Book Club meets the first Sunday of every month at 11 am ET. You are welcome to join each month or pick and choose your month based on your availability and the book we are reading. 

4

Through art, writing, and other creative modalities, we hold the power to manage our stress, make sense of our now, and relax into moments of stillness. 

5

Free, monthly, online classes in restorative yoga, yoga for breast cancer, and Zumba. 

6

Después de un Diagnóstico

bottom of page