Surprise: Men Get Breast Cancer, Too

Men may be less likely to this disease than women are, but that doesn’t mean the danger–and the need for preventative measures–isn’t there.

Posted: 10/04/2011 03:38 PM EDT

It's hard to escape gender labeling in our society. Dolls and the color pink are associated with girls, while guys are assigned GI Joes and the “manly” color blue. And the trend doesn’t stop at childhood, either. It trickles down to matters of health as well. But in reality, men can face the same challenges when they develop a disease more common in women.

Men may be less likely to get these diseases than women are, but that doesn’t mean the danger–and the need for preventative measures–isn’t there.

Breast Cancer: One Man Per 108 Women


All of us are born with breast tissue. Women tend to have more of it, thanks to hormones, which is one reason why their breast cancer rates are higher. But men are at risk, too. In 2009, the American Cancer Society determined that 1,910 men would be diagnosed and 440 would die from invasive breast cancer. The potential causes are similar between men and women–excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, high estrogen levels (in men, this could be the result of Klinefelter’s syndrome or cirrhosis), genetic predisposition, and so on. Breast cancer is most common among men aged sixty to seventy.

Doctors used to believe that men were less likely than women to survive breast cancer, but their survival rates are about the same. The National Cancer Institute thinks the mistaken belief was due to men’s not being screened for the disease earlier in life (as women are with mammograms), which means their diagnoses often happen at later, and more terminal, cancer stages.


For more on men and breast cancer, visit BlackDoctor.org and for more on BET's breast cancer awareness campaign, visit BET Goes Pink.

 

(Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

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