What You Should Know About Male Breast Cancer – When most people think of breast cancer, they automatically think of female breast cancer (given that women are typically associated with having ‘breasts’). However, in 2020, about 2,620 men are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer.
Whilst this number is relatively small compared to the female counterpart, earlier diagnosis could make a life-saving difference. Oncologist and CEO & Co-Founder of CancerAid Dr Raghav Murali-Ganesh gives us the low down on what you need to know about breast cancer in men.
How Does It Occur
Whilst most men wouldn’t consider themselves as a candidate for breast cancer, they still have breast tissue which can actually develop into the disease. Typically, breast cancer is associated with females because most types begin in the ducts that carry milk to the nipple or in the glands that make breast milk.
However, men have these ducts and glands too and whilst they’re not normally functional, breast cancer can start in these areas.
What To Look For
The signs to look out for are varied, however any changes in the breast should be monitored and seen to by a doctor.
Symptoms of breast cancer in men:
- Lump felt in the breast.
- Nipple pain.
- Nipple discharge.
- Sores on the nipple.
- Enlarged lymph nodes under the arms.
- If you notice any persistent changes, visit a doctor right away.
Growing older is the biggest risk factor for male breast cancer, with average age of men diagnosed being about 68. High estrogen levels can also put men at risk, because breast cell growth is stimulated by the presence of estrogen.
Various factors can cause high estrogen levels, ranging from being overweight, taking hormonal medicines or being exposed to estrogen in the environment (such as estrogen being used to fatten up beef cattle).
There are various methods used to diagnose breast cancer and these can range from mammograms, ultrasounds, biopsies or nipple discharge examinations. Typically, one or all of these methods will be used to detect the presence of cancer. If a diagnosis is made, your doctor might recommend more tests such as an MRI, X-rays or blood work.
Who Can Help
There are various organisations that can help someone suffering from breast cancer:
CancerAid is Australia’s number 1 free cancer app that provides the knowledge, tools and support to improve life with cancer. Their new Coach Program aims to tackle the hidden burden of cancer by allowing patients to fight cancer with an experienced ‘ally’ on their side.
Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) is the peak national consumer organisation for Australians personally affected by breast cancer.
National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) is a community-funded Australian organisation that raises money for research into the prevention and cure of breast cancer.
The McGrath Foundation has a mission to ensure that Australian families experiencing breast cancer have access to a breast care nurse no matter where they live or their financial situation.
Cancer Australia was established by the Australian Government to reduce the impact of all cancers and improve the wellbeing of those diagnosed.