During the past years, there has been a lot of programs promoting breast cancer awareness for women. This comes as no surprise since female breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths for women, second only to lung cancer. However, not many men know that they too can have breast cancer. Yes, men. Compared to female breast cancer, very little is known about this disease because it is relatively far less common — only about 1 of about 1000 breast cancer cases are diagnosed in males.
Rare as it is, we still have to be aware. Most men do not even know they can get this disease, and for this same reason, breast cancer in men are often detected in the late stages. This is also probably more serious with Filipinos as a lot of us still live the “macho” lifestyle, and will brush it off as a woman’s disease and not seek any advice at all until it’s too late.
Because men usually have much less breast tissue than women, breast lumps are often easier to detect. Men over 40 should do regular self breast exams similar to the one recommended to women.
I have performed self breast exams on myself and find that doing this while in the shower (with soap) enables your hand to feel more of the tissue underneath the skin. Do not forget to check all the way to the armpits as cancers can also form there. Look for hard, painless lumps (like a pebble) that seem to have anchored itself onto your chest muscle.
If you find a lump, do not be alarmed or get scared! This happened to me once and caused myself anxiety and panic for several days only to find out it was benign. Most breast lumps are benign (non-cancerous), but if you find a lump, the best thing to do is to make an appointment with your doctor as soon as you can to eliminate the possibility of it being breast cancer.
What are the Symptoms?
- A painless lump typically right beneath the breast where the tissue is concentrated. However, it can also appear under the areola (nipple) and the armpits. A lump however is seldom the only symptom.
- Nipple discharge. Any discharge from the nipple whether bloody or clear should not be ignored.
- Nipple retraction. This similar to an inverted nipple, which looks like something pulling the nipple inwards.
- Dimpling or Fixation to the skin. You see a dimple on your breast when there used to be none, or the appearance that something is attached underneath the skin.
- Skin ulceration. A rash, scaling, or open wound on the breast skin.
Note: Most male breast cancers are not large. One study revealed that on a large number of the cases, it found that 51% of the tumors were less than 1.5 inches in diameter.
Surviving Male Breast Cancer
– Awareness. Many men are unaware. Regular self-examination is the key.
– If a lump is detected, have it checked right away.
– Do not be embarrassed to ask a doctor if you have any concerns. This has nothing to do with your masculinity, and may just save your life!
Disclaimer: I am neither a doctor or a nurse. I wrote this article on the basis of my several years of reading about the topic and my own experience. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, please seek medical advice. If this article makes one person to see a doctor, it would have been well worth the effort to write it. – Admin-Ben
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