It’s October and it’s time for awareness and education, so let’s begin with Wikipedia’s definition of Male Breast Cancer: “Male breast cancer (male breast neoplasm) is a rare cancer in males that originates from the breast. Many males with breast cancer have inherited a BRCA mutation, but there are other causes, including alcohol abuse and exposure to certain hormones and ionizing radiation.
As it presents a similar pathology as female breast cancer, assessment and treatment relies on experiences and guidelines that have been developed in female patients. The optimal treatment is currently not known.[4 “
Defining Male Breast Cancer is one thing, living with the risk of or diagnosis is very different! Here we’ll learn about male breast cancer risk factors. The average man in the United States has a risk factor of 0.1% of developing Breast Cancer in a lifetime. This rate increases in men with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations to 1-5% with BRCA1 and 5-10% with BRCA2.
There are many factors to consider regarding your risks such as family history, genetics, lifestyle, diet and nutrition, stress, weight and exercise. All of these must be considered. The problem is, most of the information regarding these calculations are based on a female's risk but the same factors should be discussed and applied for the male.
See this checklist for risk factors for Hereditary Breast Cancer
Have you or any family member (male or female) had breast cancer?
Has Breast Cancer occurred in more than one relative on the same side of the family?
Has any man in your family had breast cancer?
Has Breast Cancer been diagnosed in you or a family member earlier than 50 years of age?
Do you have an "Ashkenazi Jewish"(central or eastern Europe) heritage with a personal or family history of breast cancer?
Does anyone in your family have a history of pancreatic, colon, early-age prostate cancer or melanoma?
If you answered "yes" to any or most of these questions, we suggest you meet with a genetics counselor to understand your cancer risk. Education is an important tool in prevention.
Male breast cancer accounts for about 1% of all breast cancers.This year there will be approximately 2600 new cases of male breast cancer diagnosed and almost 500 will die. The lifetime risk for a male being diagnosed is about 1 in 1000 which is about 100 times less common than women. Although the numbers are much smaller- does this make their life any less important?
Although rare, it is often detected later and may cause the cancer to become further progressed and more fatal. Breast cancer in men has the same causes as for women, higher levels of estrogen, family history, genetics, lifestyle or other exposures. Genetics and the mutation of specific genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 can increase risk.
Yes, it’s rare we hear about men with breast cancer but there are many reasons why:
Who’s checking - Most men are not being checked for early detection and possibly by the time it is diagnosed, it is found in other areas or organs.
Stigma - Many men do not feel comfortable speaking about a breast cancer diagnosis since this disease is usually associated with women, daughters and pink ribbons.
Until breast cancer no longer exist, our hope is that men will learn and understand they may also be at risk for being diagnosed. Early diagnosis can help to save lives.
To learn about male breast cancer risk, visit HIS Breast Cancer Awareness.
To help save lives, please share this information.
Modah Ani- I Am Thankful
Editor; Vicki Singer Wolf, Co-founder