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...
When the doctor told Mike Singer in 2010 that his biopsy had tested positive for breast cancer, he turned to his wife with an expletive and a request for an explanation.
How could a man have breast cancer?
Along with the shock that every cancer patient feels on hearing the words, “You have cancer,” Mike was in disbelief that he could have a “woman’s disease.” Although he knew he had a family history of the disease because his sister Joanne had died of metastatic breast cancer two years earlier, Mike hadn’t worried when he first noticed a lump near his nipple.
He didn’t even mention the lump when he saw the doctor for a check-up. At a follow-up visit, he thought to mention that he had had a lump for several months. As soon as the doctor felt the lump the size of a pencil eraser, he sent Mike for a needle biopsy. That biopsy was unsuccessful, so a surgica...
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