October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The abundance of pink ribbons that are popping-up all over town have become synonymous with this health crisis in women. However, in reality, breast cancer is far from a female-only disease.
This year, more than 2,300 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the Untied States. Of those, between 400-500 will lose their battle. Unfortunately, men are not routinely screened for the disease; many do not even know they can develop breast cancer. This means that for men, breast cancer is often in an advanced stage before it is detected.
Overall, the breast-cancer risk factors are the same for both men and women. The primary factor is age; the average male will be 68 years old when diagnosed with breast cancer. Another factor is a high estrogen level. In men, this can be triggered by medication, being over weight, heavy alcohol use, or liver disease, among other things. Genetics plays a large role, as well, especially if other men in the family have had breast cancer. Men with the breast cancer gene (BRCA1 or BRCA2) are 80 times more likely to develop breast cancer than those without it.
Early Detection Saves Lives
Women are instructed to do a monthly breast exam. The same is encouraged for men. Once a month, men should stand in front of the mirror, watching for any new irregularities such as redness, puckering, or unusual looking skin, as well as checking for areas of swelling. As men have less breast tissue, it is often easier to detect lumps. Anything out of the ordinary should be immediately looked over by a physician.
Potential Signs of Male Breast Cancer:
- Lump in the breast
- Nipple pain
- Inverted (sunken) nipple
- Discharge from the nipple
- Sores on nipple or areola
- Enlarged lymph nodes under the arm
Gynecomastia Is Not a Sign of Cancer
It is important to know that gynecomastia, enlarged or excessive breast tissue (in both breasts), is not indicative of cancer. This condition can result from several things, including a hormonal imbalance, a medication side effect, recreational drug use, or certain illnesses. Gynecomastia that does not resolve on its own can be successfully corrected through a male breast reduction.
Dr. Paul Vitenas is the leading Gynecomastia surgeon in the Houston area. He has over 25 years of experience in cosmetic and reconstructive procedures of the male breast. If you have any questions, or would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Vitenas, contact the office at (281) 668-7370.
You can also find more information on male breast cancer here.