Addressing The Elephant In The Room: Male Breast Cancer

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Most of us are aware of breast cancer and its effects on women, but many of us don’t talk about the less common issue of breast cancer in men. One of the most common questions around breast cancer is “can guys get breast cancer?” Many people assume that since men do not have “breasts” they cannot get breast cancer. The fact is that breast cancer can and does affect hundreds of men each year, and we do men a huge disservice by failing to talk about the reality of male breast cancer.  

In this article, we will discuss the prevalence of male breast cancer, how it occurs, and how you can overcome stigmas and spark an important conversation around male breast cancer.

What is Male Breast Cancer? 

Male breast cancer is a rare cancer that forms in the breast tissue of men. Though breast cancer is most commonly thought of as a disease that affects women, breast cancer does occur in men. Male breast cancer is most common in older men, though it can occur at any age.

Prevalence of Male Breast Cancer

It’s true that breast cancer does not occur in men as frequently as it does in women. According to male breast cancer statistics, only about 1 in 800 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer, which equates to about 1% of all breast cancer cases. Still, it is possible for a man to develop breast cancer, and we should not write it off as impossible just because it is rare. One notable case of male breast cancer recently diagnosed was Beyonce’s father, Mathew Knowles. Knowles is now a large advocate of men speaking up about breast cancer.

Where Breast Cancer Begins in Men

Because men are born with a small amount of breast tissue, they can develop breast cancer. Breast cancer in men is usually detected as a hard lump underneath the nipple and areola. 

Male Breast Cancer Risk

Men can have the BRCA gene, which puts them at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. By creating visibility and awareness about the possibility of having a BRCA mutation, we hope to encourage more men with family histories of breast cancer to seek regular screening for breast cancer through mammography and increase the number of lives saved. 

If you are a man and have a family history of breast cancer, it’s extremely important to get screened. Screening for men is similar to women as men can get mammograms, which are often more accurate in men since they typically have less density in their breast tissue.

The Importance of Talking About Male Breast Cancer

Men who have breast cancer carry a higher mortality rate than women who have breast cancer do, mostly because there is less conversation and awareness among male breast cancer. Because of this, men are less likely to attribute a lump to breast cancer, and are less likely to seek treatment. This can postpone the discovery of the breast cancer, which can lead to the cancer spreading to other parts of the body or being diagnosed in much later stages when it is more difficult to treat. 

If you are a man looking for breast cancer screening in San Francisco, schedule an appointment at your nearest BICRAD location today.