Think men don’t get breast cancer? Think again. Although
uncommon, it does happen. The Canadian Cancer Society says men will
make up less than one percent of all Alberta breast cancer diagnoses in
Canada in 2010. While fewer men will die from breast cancer (0.3 per 100,000
men, compared to 20.2 per 100,000 women), the disease is more fatal in men:
about 35 percent of men who get breast cancer will die from it, whereas only
20 percent of women die from it.
One reason why: Men have glandular breast tissue, which means, like
women, they are susceptible to cancer growth. But, unlike women, male breast
cancer (MBC) is rarely mentioned, so few people — male or female — understand its existence and associated risks.
Dr. Jane M. Wilson, radiation oncologist at the Lethbridge Cancer Centre,
notes men with breast cancer are not always as vigilant as women in detecting the disease. “Thus, their overall case-fatality rates are not the same as for
women,” she says.
Ignorance, in this case, can be deadly. MBC manifests in the same way
female breast cancer does — namely, a painless, firm mass or masses in
breast tissue. But, because men rarely have their breasts examined and are
rarely educated about MBC, they are typically diagnosed late, when the
disease has already progressed.
Risk factors may include hormonal influences, liver diseases, obesity
and, as with most cancers, family history. Men of any age can develop
MBC, but the median age of diagnosis is 65 years old — five to 10 years
older than for women.
So what’s a man to do? Knowing your family history is important. Dr. Laura
McDougall, the medical lead of the Alberta Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Programs, recommends notifying your health-care provider of any unusual
breast changes. Be aware certain diseases or conditions such as gynecomastia
(enlarged breast glands in men) and testicular conditions have a higher association with MBC.
Wilson also recommends making “lifestyle changes that focus on normal
body weight, such as healthy diet, exercise and moderate alcohol intake.”
is also a
And it’s as lethal in men as
it is in women. Here’s how
to defend yourself
By COLLEEN SETO
More ways to defend
Maintaining a healthy body weight is one
of the best things to do to prevent many
cancers, including male breast cancer, says
the Canadian Cancer Society. Here are some
other quick tips for reducing your risk.
• Follow Canada’s Food Guide
• Drink alcohol in moderaton
• Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables
• Limit red and processed meats, and
processed foods in general
• Get active! regular physical activity can
help protect against cancer