It Time To Spread the Word, Men Get Breast Cancer

by Carol Ann Donnelly

The Men’s Group, at the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation is a thriving  program that enables guys who have walked the cancer path with the women they love, to join together periodically to pay-it-forward. These men understand each other without saying a word, because they have all experienced the fear, the anxiety and a dozen other emotions that surface during their loved ones cancer journey. They understand breast cancer, because they watched their women battle through it. They also understand that breast cancer is not exclusive to women; men get it, too.

In fact, out of the estimated 246,660 diagnoses of breast cancer in the United States this year, approximately 2600 of those diagnosed or about 1-percent will be men. It seems like an insignificant number, but 440 of those men diagnosed will die from the disease. That means almost 17-percent of men diagnosed with breast cancer will die from the disease. The good news is that number is down almost 5 percentage points from ten years ago. That means breast health/breast cancer education is working, and more men are recognizing the signs of breast cancer and going to see their healthcare professionals right away.”Despite the downward trending mortality percentages, there is still a lot of work to do to ensure men know the signs and risk factors of breast cancer,” said Maureen DiPiero, Community Outreach and Education Manager for the Gloria Gemma Foundation.

Some of the symptoms of breast cancer include a lump or thickening of the breast tissue, dimpling or puckering of the breast skin, redness or scaling of the skin, an inverted nipple or discharge from the nipple. “People need to be aware the breast tissue includes tissue up to the collarbone and down under the arm.” DiPiero said.There are risk factors that increase a man’s chances of developing breast cancer. The most common risk factor is older age. The average age for a diagnosis of breast cancer in men is 68, whereas the average age for women in 61. Also, men who have a first degree relative with breast cancer, such as a mother or sister, are at an increased risk. The largest risk factor is an inherited gene mutation, such as the BRCA1 or BRCA2. Up to 40 percent of breast cancers in men are related to a gene mutation, while less than 10 percent of breast cancer in women is related to a gene mutation. Men can inherit a gene mutation from either parent, and they can pass the gene mutation on to their children. A gene mutation also puts men at increased risk for other types of cancers.

“Anyone who finds a lump or experiences any of the symptoms should consult their healthcare professional right away,” said DiPiero. “Men can and do get breast cancer.”

 Carol Ann Donnelly is a two-time breast cancer survivor and writer. She works for Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation whose mission is to raise breast cancer awareness, increase breast health education, enhance the quality of life for breast cancer patients, as well as their families and friends, and generate funding for local breast health programs. For more information, visit 

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