October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Breast Cancer in Men
Photo courtesy CDC
Breast cancer occurs mainly in women however, the fact is men do have breast tissue and can develop breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 2,360 men in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and 430 men will die of this disease. Male breast cancer makes up less than 1% of all cases of breast cancer. Mostly affecting older men between 60 and 70 years of age, breast cancer can appear in younger men. Most experts agree that some men are at greater risk for breast cancer than others.
A man's average risk is low; however the following factors can raise a man's risk:
- Family history of breast cancer in his female relatives
- Inheriting gene mutations, such as the BRCA2 gene
- Radiation exposure
- Advanced age
- Elevated estrogen levels- genetic disorders such as Klinefelter syndrome (a rare genetic disorder) or a liver disease such as cirrhosis
- Any new irregularity on the skin or nipple, such as redness, scaliness, or puckering
- Lifestyle factors such as being overweight or obese or lack of exercise
Symptoms of breast cancer in men are similar to those in women. The most common symptom of male breast cancer is a painless lump or swelling behind the nipple. Other symptoms may include a nipple discharge or a lump or thickening in the armpit. Men have a tendency to delay going to a doctor until they have more severe symptoms but any of these symptoms should be checked by a doctor.
The diagnosis and treatment of male breast cancer is similar to that of women with a physical exam, mammogram, ultrasound, and possible biopsies. Similarly, the treatments used are somewhat the same- surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy depending on the type of cancer and tumor stage. However, there is limited research on breast cancer treatment in men because it is so uncommon. Thorough discussion with a doctor should be done to discuss all possibilities.
The Sussex County Department of Environmental & Public Health Services, along with the Sussex Warren Chronic Disease Coalition and the Sussex County NJCEED Program, are helping the county to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month once again with the annual "Tie a Ribbon" campaign. This county-wide initiative for breast cancer awareness brings every municipality together with county residents to tie the pink ribbons in their communities. The purpose is to capture the attention of those passing by in order to relay the key messages about early detection.
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