Against the usual notion that it is only women that are affected by this form of cancer, several reports have indicated that breast cancer cases develop in men too.
Even so, male breast cancer is rare with reports that one in a thousand men develop this form of cancer, it is still an issue.
For the 70-year-old Ian Cranston, it was impossible until he was diagnosed with breast cancer in May.
Presently, Ian is among other men who have decided to help try raise awareness of the disease in northern Ireland and beyond.
Here is his story.
It all started when his wife noticed his inverted nipple.
"I didn't know what that meant," said Ian.
"Men can't get breast cancer, I don't have to go
to the doctor.
"I wasn't aware I had breasts. This is my chest,
men don't have breasts, it's impossible," he
Eventually his wife persuaded him to go to see a physician.
The diagnosis stunned him.
"Men having breast cancer, I couldn't believe it,"
"I couldn't do or say anything. My wife Elizabeth
Jim howey, a game official, is also a male breast cancer survivor.
"That summer I was a 6’4, 210-pound, healthy
53-year-old guy. I had come in from a work out,
laid down on the floor, and ran my hands down
my chest. I felt a lump in my right breast. You
couldn’t see it, but I felt it. I had my wife check
the lump too and we decided to get in touch
with my physician."
"The doctor wasn’t too concerned. He thought
the lump could be a cyst or some fatty tissue,
but he sent me for a biopsy. I was shocked and
in disbelief when I was told I had breast cancer.
My first question was, “What is the most
aggressive thing we can do?” I didn’t want to
take any chances. A mastectomy of my right
breast was performed 10 days later."
In 2014, reports said 389 men in the UK were diagnosed with the disease, seventy-five died as a result.
It is estimated by the American Cancer society that in the year 2017, 2,470 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer, compared to a large figure 252,710 American women estimated to be diagnosed with breast cancer same year.
The incidence rates of male breast cancer were on the increase between the years 1973 and 1983 when it increased from 0.86 to 1.08 per 100,000, but studies say the rates in men have been fairly stable over the last 30years.
Why men also develop this form of cancer is because males and females are born with some breast cells and tissue. Even though males do not develop milk producing breast, the male's breast cells can develop cancer.
It is lower in men due to the fact that they have lower levels of circulating oestrogen, the female sex hormones, which is said to be encouraging a high rate of cell division which increases the risks of mutations, including those that leads to breast cancer.
- radiation exposure
- high levels of the hormone estrogen
- family history of breast cancer
Signs and Symptoms
Male breast cancer can exhibit the same symptoms as breast cancer in women.
- lump in the breast
- nipple pain
- an inverted nipple
- nipple discharge (clear or bloody)
- sores on the nipple and areola (the small ring of colour around the centre of the nipple)
- enlarged lymph nodes under the arm
The same treatment that are used to treat breast cancer in women are also used to treat breast cancer in men.
- biological therapy
- hormone therapy
Men have been advised to remain vigilant and contact their doctors if they notice any persistent changes to their breasts. Early detection increases treatment options and often reduces the risk of dying from the disease.
Image Credits: visual.ly
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