Yes, Men Get Breast Cancer Too
The campaign for breast cancer awareness has been quite full of developments over the past years. However, not much has been said in terms of breast cancer for men. Yes, men get breast cancer too. Take Oliver Bogler, for example, he is a 47-year-old cancer biologist based in Houston who found out he had the same disease as his wife, who was diagnosed of breast cancer five years earlier.
Imagine a husband and wife both going through the symptoms of breast cancer and experiencing its effects. They would both have to seek either treatment in the form of conventional medicine, a holistic cancer treatment, or other types of alternative medicine that area accessible to them.
The fact is that fewer than one percent of all breast cancers are diagnosed in men. However, as much as 2,400 men discover they have breast cancer. Some of them probably might not even know they can get breast cancer until their doctors have informed them.
It All Starts in Your Duct Cells
Both men and women have duct cells in their breasts that are both susceptible to cancerous changes, which are brought about by unstable hormones that influence an abnormal cell growth and development. Although the causes of male breast cancer remain shrouded in medical mystery, risk factors are known to be the following:
- inherited genetic mutations (BRCA and BRCA2 mutation)
- family history
- exposure to radiation
- occupational hazards such as prolonged exposure to intense heat or specific chemicals
- liver disease
- history of cancer treatments e.g. radiation to the chest
- Klinefelter’s Syndrome
Despite doctors being able to determine some of the most common risk factors for male breast cancer, there are still men who develop breast cancer without experiencing any of the aforementioned risk factors. Many men ignore lumps in their chest, when it might possibly be a tumor that needs to be checked.
Observations from a Male Breast Cancer Patient
As a cancer patient, Dr. Bogler has made many observations regarding cancer. He was very surprised when he found out how little awareness there was for male breast cancer. It was very much skewed toward women, even though that it affects both sexes.
He even cited an example of the one-sidedness of cancer forms, as the questions were mostly aimed at women. In his words, he says, “ I live in this very pink world.” He just skips the part that asks patients if they are pregnant or not. His realization is simple—not many people know that men have breast cancer. See his story in a New York Times column.
Let’s Talk Statistics
According to the American Cancer Society, the estimated number of new breast cancer cases for 2014 will be around 2,360. This year as well, 430 lives will be lost in the fight against male breast cancer. Some might not even know of their affliction before it is too late.
So what are the chances of a man getting a breast cancer? The answer is one in a thousand. It is a hundred times less common among males than in females, which explains why it has not received as much publicity as it should have.
Did you know that men, historically, have been excluded from clinical trials of medicines for breast cancer? The FDA does not have as much clinical trial data on treatments for men because it is quite rare. Thankfully the FDA is encouraging pharmaceutical companies to include men in their clinical trials unless there is a legitimate scientific reason for not doing so.
Men Aren’t Aware They Can Get Cancer
The thing men’s perception on lumps is that they do not naturally appear on a male body other than if it was a swelling caused by an injury. Women assume for the worst when upon self-examination they feel a lump in their breast, which is why they get the medical attention they need or seek a holistic cancer treatment facility and sign up as soon as possible.
What usually happens is that male breast cancer patients have seen the lumps but regard them as normal, until they become sore and painful.
How to Spot Male Breast Cancer
Most breast cancers in men develop underneath the nipple and right in the middle of areola. Since mammograms are encouraged in women, it is a sad thought for men to have lumps checked only when they start feeling a certain degree of pain or discomfort.
There are both conventional and alternative approaches to treating male breast cancer. Conventional medicine offers treatment options such as:
- mastectomy (removal of the entire breast)
- lumpectomy (removal of the lump)
- targeted therapies
- hormone therapy
Since there is no large, randomized clinical trials for men, treatments using conventional medicine are based on the testing conducted among women. As a result, some treatments that are used on women are not as effective when used on men.
On the other hand, there are notable holistic cancer treatment facilities that are using both conventional treatment and incorporating alternative and complementary methods. Their goal is not only to eliminate the cancerous tumor itself, but to strengthen the body’s immune system, as well as promoting a healthy lifestyle for their patients.