When you hear the words “breast cancer,” what’s your first impression (besides dread)? Do you picture your mother, sister, or girlfriend? Film footage of legions of pink-ribbon bedecked women striding through the streets of a major city, television coverage of one of the big breast cancer fund-raising walks? Do you ever see a man in this picture? No? We often speak about the sisterhood of breast cancer. Well, move over ladies–men get breast cancer, too. Not nearly as often as women, admittedly; while about 200,000 American women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, the figure for men is about 1,300, a little over half of one percent of the total. But for those 1,300 men, the diagnosis is just as searing; the treatment as painful, the illness just as life-threatening. In fact, statistics show breast cancer diagnosis in a man is actually more life-threatening, due to the fact it was probably made later, and the cancer is usually more advanced. The vast major...
One study found that male breast cancer is on the rise, with a 25% increase over the 25 years from 1973 to 1988. But it's still rare. It's unclear whether the reported rise means the disease is slowly becoming more common, or whether men better understand the symptoms and report their symptoms, leading to diagnoses that might have been missed in the past.
If you notice any persistent changes to your breasts, you should contact your doctor. Here are some signs to watch for:
a lump felt in the breast
an inverted nipple
nipple discharge (clear or bloody)
sores on the nipple and areola (the small ring of color around the center of the nipple)
enlarged lymph nodes under the arm
It's important to note that enlargement of both breasts (not just on one side) is usually NOT cancer. The medical term for this is gynecomastia. Sometimes the breasts can become quite large. Non-cancer-related enlargement of the breasts can be caused by medications, heavy alcohol use, weight gain, or m...
After an abnormality of the breast is found, tests are performed to see if the problem is cancer. One or all of these tests might be done:
Mammogram: A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast. Two pictures are taken of the breast after it is compressed between two glass plates. One image is shot from the top and the second picture is taken from the side. A radiologist will look at the pictures and determine if anything looks abnormal. He or she may then decide to get other pictures of a certain area. These are called spot or magnification views.
Ultrasound: Ultrasound sends high-frequency sound waves through your breast and converts them into images on a viewing screen. Ultrasound complements other tests. If an abnormality is seen on mammography or felt by physical exam, ultrasound is the best way to find out if the abnormality is solid (such as a benign fibroadenoma or a cancer) or fluid-filled (such as a benign cyst). Ultrasound cannot determine whether a solid lump is cancer...
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