Can guys get breast cancer? To most people, breast cancer is a female disease, and the vast majority of men never stop to think about their risk of breast cancer. No wonder. Breast cancer has been feminized by the media with a pink ribbon serving as a symbol of the disease. It’s not surprising that there’s so little awareness of the problem of breast cancer in males.
Breast Cancer in Men: Can Guys Get Breast Cancer?
Yes, guys can get breast cancer – although they get it less often than females. Around 1,500 men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, which is a small number compared to the 192,000 cases discovered in women on a yearly basis. But new breast cancer diagnoses are declining among women, while the incidence of breast cancer in men remains stable.
Men Getting Breast Cancer: What are the Risk Factors?
The risk factors for breast cancer in men are very similar to those in females. Family history is a strong risk for breast cancer in men, especially if there is more than one family member who got the disease at an early age. Men who have higher levels of estrogen in their body are also at greater risk for male breast cancer. Some factors that increase estrogen levels in men are obesity and liver disease.
Men who have a genetic disease called Klinefelter’s syndrome, where they have an extra X chromosome, are at higher risk for breast cancer. These men also usually have enlarged breasts – a condition called gynecomastia.
Exposure to toxins and radiation increase the risk of a man getting breast cancer. Since alcohol alters estrogen metabolism, one might imagine that heavy use of alcohol in men would elevate the risk – as it does in women. In men, this hasn’t been proven, but large amounts of alcohol can cause liver disease, which is associated with a greater risk of breast cancer.
Men Getting Breast Cancer
Even men with a strong family history of breast cancer who may be at higher risk themselves are blissfully unaware of it. One study showed a whopping 79% of men didn’t realize that a man can get breast cancer. 43% even said that if they were diagnosed with the disease it might call their masculinity into question. Even more disturbing was the fact that in men with a strong family history of the disease, their health care provider never discussed this issue with them at all.
Can Guys Get Breast Cancer: The Bottom Line?
Yes, guys can get breast cancer and when they do, it has a worse prognosis than in women because it’s usually diagnosed at a later stage. There needs to be more awareness of breast cancer in men – especially men with a family history of the disease.
Medical News Today. “Nearly 80% Of Men Are Unaware Of Their Breast Cancer Risk Despite Having A Family History Of The Disease”
Cornell University. “Breast Cancer in Men”