It’s not just women who should be concerned.
If the pink ribbons are any indication, most people consider breast cancer strictly a women’s health issue. For the most part, it is, occurring nearly 100 times more often in women than in men, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
That being said, breast cancer still affects men. The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 2,470 new cases of breast cancer for men in 2017, and that number has been fairly stable for 30 years.
“Realizing that you’ve just developed a disease that’s conventionally associated with women may terrify you,” says Mark, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 55.
Mark believes it’s natural to be confused and left with questions. “‘What do I do? Why did I develop this disease?’” The real question Mark says you should be asking is, “What can I do for myself?”
The answer: Get checked. “Men should not die of breast cancer out of ignorance,” says Mark.
Although men’s chests appear mostly flat, they do contain breast tissue, which can undergo cancerous changes, according to the American Cancer Society. It’s simply less common because the breast duct cells are less developed.
The lower prevalence of breast cancer in men can pose a risk, however: not catching the tumor.
When it comes to breast cancer detection, Mark wants men to shake off their “macho” tendencies: “It limits their ability to accept that they can develop any disease, let alone one associated with women.”
A very special thanks to Susan G. Komen Greater New York City.
Risk factors. Frisco, TX: National Breast Cancer Foundation. (Accessed on October 3, 2017 at http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-risk-factors.)
What are the key statistics about breast cancer in men? Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society, 2017. (Accessed on October 3, 2017 at https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer-in-men/about/key-statistics.html.)
What is breast cancer in men? Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society, 2016. (Accessed on September 29, 2017 at https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer-in-men/about/what-is-breast-cancer-in-men.html.)