Male Breast Cancer on the Rise!
We all know that Pink October is the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. When we talk about breast cancer, the first thing that comes to our mind is women. But, what about men who are suffering from breast cancer? The shocking fact is that awareness of male breast cancer is pretty much low. Also, most men do not even know that they are actually at a very high risk of breast cancer. Breast cancer, which is predominantly a woman’s disease, can attack men too! So, read onto explore more about this dreadful and fatal disease – “Male Breast Cancer.”
According to the American Cancer Society, around 0.22% of cancer deaths among men are because of breast cancer. Thanks to better treatment options, the survival rates are on the rise! The exact cause of this ailment is unknown. However, some predisposing factors can cause breast cancer. One problem with this disease is the lack of awareness, which results in late diagnosis or misdiagnosis. This mistake can take the disease to another level, where there is no cure. So, all you can do is undergo screening tests for cancer if you suspect a lump or any other abnormality in your breasts.
Risk Factors of Male Breast Cancer
Even men possess small amount of non-functioning breast tissue, which cannot produce milk. This is concentrated in the place directly behind the nipple on the chest wall. Cancer of the male breast is characterized by the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells of breast tissue. Some of the factors that cause this disease are mainly due to genetic and environmental influences. However, there are certain factors that can increase the risk of male breast cancer. Here are some of the predisposing factors that causes this disease among men:
- Hormone Levels: Breast cancer cells grow normally and divide with response to female hormones like estrogen. When more number of cells divide, the more chances are for errors, especially when copying of the DNA structures takes place. These changes in the DNA structures can lead to cancer. Some of the diseases that are related to an increase in the estrogen levels are gynaecomastia, klinefeltar’s syndrome, obesity and cirrhosis of the liver.
- Gene Mutations /Changes: There are certain genes in our body that speed up the cell division process called the “oncogens.” So, breast cancer among men are caused by these DNA mutations that turn on the oncogens.
- Acquired Gene Mutations: Most DNA mutations related to male breast cancer are not inherited before birth, but occur due to several other factors. One thing that remains a mystery is why these mutations firstly happen. This question remains unanswered!
- Inherited Gene Mutations: Male breast cancer is caused due to certain inherited changes in the DNA. This can raise the risk of developing cancers as they run in families. In men, changes in the BRCA2 gene seems to be responsible for about ten percent of breast cancer cases.
- Radiation Exposure: Exposure to ionizing radiation has been associated with an increase in the risk of developing male breast cancer. Men who have undergone radiation therapy to treat malignancies like Hodgkin’s lymphoma have a greater risk for the development of breast cancer.
Male Breast Cancer – The Signs!
You may notice some specific changes in your breast. So, here are some signs you must watch for:
- Enlarged lymph nodes under the arm
- Sores on the nipple and areola
- Nipple discharge
- An inverted nipple
- Pain in the nipple
- A lump in the breast
When you suffer from these signs, consult your health care provider immediately. Early diagnosis could make a life-saving difference! So, what men must be aware of is that they need to go to their doctor right away; if they detect persistent changes in their breasts.
You need not worry if you are having these signs because there are many diagnostic tests available to confirm the presence of cancer. There are many tests done like mammogram, an ultrasound, nipple discharge examination, or biopsy. If cancer diagnosis is positive, then your doctor may recommend more tests. There are other tests like blood work to check whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body or not.
The Staging of Male Breast Cancer!
Staging is done to find out the extent to which a cancer has spread within the body. This staging is somewhat similar to the staging of breast cancer in women. So, here is how staging is done:
- Stage 0 – Stage 0 refers to intraductal carcinoma, where the cancer cells spread beyond the boundaries of the ducts.
- Stage I – In this stage, the tumor is 2 cm or less in diameter. The most important thing is that it does not spread to the lymph nodes or other sites in the body.
- Stage II – This stage is divided into two groups. Stage IIA cancer is less than 2 cm in diameter and spreads to the axillary lymph nodes. Stage IIB tumors are larger than 5 cm, without spreading to the lymph nodes.
- Stage III – Stage III is a locally advanced cancer. This stage is also divided into two stages. Stage IIIA means that the tumor is greater than 5 cm. It spreads to the axillary lymph nodes, which are normally attached to each other. Stage IIIB tumors are dangerous as they spread to the surrounding tissues like chest wall, skin, and ribs, or to the lymph nodes.
- Stage IV – This refers to the metastatic cancer, which means that it has already spread to other parts of the body. Metastasis is usually found in the liver, lungs, bones, or brain. This is the most fatal and final stage.
Early Detection Saves Men’s Lives Too!
The good news is that there are many surgical procedures available in order to treat the cancer cells. The survival rates increase, if it is detected at an early stage. So, all you can do is ask your doctor for a mammogram to screen your breast tissue. Please visit your health care professional if you find some unusual changes in your breast.
The best thing is to do a self-breast examination. If you are also one among those who are suffering from this disease, then do not lose hope. Be courageous and fight as the present day medicines are very effective in treating any type of cancer.
Be of good Courage and Fight this Dreadful Disease! Create awareness among people, as this is the best way to fight it!