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October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. To honor survivors and raise awareness, many people and businesses put up the pink ribbon. When we see it, we all tend to think that the pink is for the brave girls and women who have conquered cancer. After all, women are the ones who get breast cancer, right?
According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the world. Hundreds of thousands of women die from breast cancer around the world each year. In America, breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women, beaten only by lung cancer. A break down in sta- tistics provided by the National Cancer Institute show that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. However, with rising levels of awareness and better treatment options, the survivability of breast cancer for women has increased.
That survivability depends on early detection. Women in American regularly grouse and groan, but we get our mammograms and do self- examinations to detect any early symptoms. It is some- thing nearly all girls know about.
What isn’t so well know is that men can get breast cancer, too. It is extremely rare, but yes, men get breast cancer. Men diagnosed with breast cancer also have a much lower survivability rate than women. Why?
Because many men don’t know they can even get breast cancer. They do not know they need to get a lump in the breast checked out.
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, the symptoms of breast cancer are the same for men and women. The aforementioned lump in the breast tissue, changes in skin texture, and tenderness. Another signal of breast cancer can be unexplained changes in the size of the breast. For men, the lump may be found in the area under the nipple. For anyone, male or female, if you notice something unusual about your breasts, contact your doctor.
There is not shame in get- ting checked out. Women 40 and older are recommended to get yearly mammograms on top of doing self-examina- tions. Once a woman is 55, the American Cancer Society recommends she gets a mammogram twice a year. Men are not recommended to get a breast cancer screening unless they have an increased risk due to carry- ing a gene mutation. If they do carrying the BRCA 1 or BCRA 2 gene mutation, then it is recommended they also get a yearly screening start- ing at age 50. Every man can perform self-examinations, though, especially if there is a family history. Early detection, no matter the gender, is key to surviving a breast cancer diagnosis. The faster someone gets treatment, the more likely they are to live.
Treatment for men with breast cancer is nigh on identical to how women are treated. Depending on the size of the tumor and how it has spread, the treatment could include chemo, surgery, hormone therapy, or radiation therapy.
It is also recommend that men who are diagnosed with breast cancer consult a genetics counselor. The National Breast Cancer Foundation states that men who carry the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene mutation that leads to breast cancer are also at higher risk of getting prostate cancer, as well as pancreatic cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosis and the third leading cause of death in American men. A break down in the statistics here show that one in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their life- time. Similarly to women with breast cancer, though, early detection and better treatment options have made it so that the ten year survival rate for prostate cancer is 98%.
Most men know about the dangers of prostate cancer and regularly go to get screened. The American Cancer Society recommends that men aged 50 should start talking with their doctors about regular prostate screenings. The screening and early detection of prostate cancer have managed to raise the survivabili- ty rate for men. However, that same knowledge is not known about male breast cancer. Like with all other types of cancer, the earlier the cancer is detected, the better the chance the man will survive.
The CDC states that most breast cancers are found in men over 50. A man has a higher risk if there is a fami- ly history of breast cancer, as well. Like most illnesses and diseased today, the CDC also listed obesity as a risk factor that could lead to the devel- opment of breast cancer in men.
With all this said, breast cancer in men is very rare. Just because something is rare doesn’t mean it cannot happen, though. Awareness and knowledge is the key to early detection and an increased chance of surviv- ability. Have an honest talk with the men you know about the dangers of breast cancer, especially if there is a family history of it.
The pink ribbon isn’t just for women. It is for men, too.