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Breast Cancer in Men- Rare but on the Rise

Breast Cancer in Men- Rare but on the Rise

When you think of breast cancer you probably think of it as a women’s disease. It’s true that breast cancer is 100 times more common in women, but men can develop breast cancer -- nearly 2,500 new cases are reported each year. Men also face a 25 percent higher mortality rate than women across all stages of the disease, and are more likely to die within five years of diagnosis. These numbers are alarming!

Experts attribute the higher rate of mortality to a lack of screening and delay in diagnosis. Men are not typically given the same breast cancer prevention regimens as women, and they’re more likely to ignore a lump in their breast, resulting in a more advanced cancer once diagnosed. (How many men do you know who perform breast self-exams? Probably not many.)

Men too have breast tissue, glands and ducts that are affected by puberty and hormones, although they normally have lower levels of female hormones and their breast tissue does not grow as compared to women. Breast cancers generally start in the ducts that carry milk to the breast or in the glands that make breast milk. These ducts and glands are typically non-functional in men.

Men are more likely to have the disease spread into the lymph nodes, which requires more aggressive treatment and can increase the likelihood of developing cancer in the opposite breast, as well as melanoma and prostate cancer.

To help lower the incidence of male breast cancer, it’s critical for both men and their health care providers to make a bigger push for awareness and the importance of prevention measures. Another way to reduce the risk is to get educated on what factors increase your chance of developing breast cancer. This includes older age, obesity, family history of breast cancer, higher alcohol use and liver disease, as well as injury to, swelling in or removal of the testicles.

If you notice a change in your breast area -- a lump, soreness, redness or swelling of the tissue -- don’t put off talking to your doctor. Early detection is key in both male and female breast cancer. It’s never too late to make your health a priority!

A mammogram can often find or detect breast cancer early when it is most treatable. Click here to schedule your annual mammogram.