October signifies National Breast Cancer Awareness Month’s 25 years of providing awareness, education and empowerment to the public.
NBCAM hosts the annual National Mammography Day held on the third Friday in October. This year it will be on Oct. 16. Mammograms are advised for women 40 and over, but women are not the only gender susceptible to breast cancer.
According to the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer can occur in men. Men at any age may develop breast cancer, but it is usually detected in men between 60 and 70 years of age.
Shaundra Buggs, senior clerk of the Breast and Cervical Cancer program under the Office of Minority Health for the Leon County Health Department, said men fail to attend doctor visits regularly.
“It starts with that stigma first then it goes to lack of knowledge. They are not being informed about breast cancer as with prostate cancer,” Buggs said.
Angelia Darsey, a registered nurse and the oncology patient navigator at Capital Cancer Center, said men should learn about male breast cancer.
“Men should be aware that, even though it is not as common as it is in women, men do develop this disease,” Darsey said. “They should learn the symptoms of this cancer and have their healthcare provider assess them if they develop any symptoms. Just as with many other cancers, the earlier it is discovered, the better the prognosis. If they discover a lump in the breast they should know that this might represent breast cancer.”
According to the American Cancer Society, cancer mortality rates among both African-American and non-Hispanic white men with 12 or fewer years of education are more than twice those in men with higher levels of education.
Lakendra Caruthers, a senior occupational wellness student from Tampa, said some people don’t even know that men can get breast cancer.
Buggs said that understanding that we are human kind first and not man and womankind is important in breast cancer. It helps individuals understand the body’s make-up, and that we have familiar parts, just orchestrated a little different.
According to the NCI, survival for men with breast cancer is similar to that for women with breast cancer when their stage at diagnosis is the same. Breast cancer in men, however, is often diagnosed at a later stage.
“We are very adamant about early detections, it betters our chance for eliminating it,” Buggs said.
The estimated popularity among men with breast cancer has decreased by little since 2007. In 2007, about 2,030 cases of breast cancer was expected to occur among men, accounting for about one percent of all breast cancer and only an estimated 1,910 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to occur among in men this year, according to the American Cancer Society.
Breast cancer in men develops from different factors.
“Several risk factors are family history, obesity, exposure to radiation and medical conditions that cause high estrogen levels. However, many men who get breast cancer have no obvious risk factors and some men who have several may never develop the disease,” Darsey said.
Awareness of breast cancer steers individuals toward the right direction. Advances in breast cancer are becoming more available.
Darsey said there are many advances in breast cancer that are primarily related to the use of chemotherapy for the cases where the cancer has come back.
It is not too late for men to broaden their knowledge about the disease.
“New ways of giving radiation therapy for patients who have lumpectomy have been developed and this is called MammoSite,” Darsey said. “There are many clinical research trials going on across the U.S. looking at all aspects of breast cancer treatment.”
Breast cancer takes many lives and it is imperative for everyone to become proactive against this disease.