October is dedicated to Breast Cancer Awareness and in this post, we explore a little known fact — men get it too.
Why are we doing this?
I know what you’re thinking, why is a tech company writing about breast cancer?
It’s no secret that the IT and tech sector is dominated by men, with the percentage of women working in the field rapidly increasing each year. As a software solutions provider, we’re pleased to say that the number of women representing Clearvision is the highest it has ever been at 28%. Whilst this is great news for us and women everywhere, this article is not about gender diversity. This one is dedicated to men, not just at Clearvision but everywhere, in the tech space and beyond.
Breast cancer is often thought of as something that only affects women, but in rare cases, men get it too.
How? Men have a small amount of breast tissue behind their nipples and this is where cancer can grow.
Here are some facts about male sufferers:
- It is more likely to occur in men over the age of 60, although younger men have been known to get it.
- For some men, being diagnosed with breast cancer is shocking, scary, confusing and even embarrassing.
- Feelings of isolation are not uncommon due to the little information and advice available to men.
Breast cancer symptoms in men
Common symptoms of breast cancer in men include:
- A hard lump in the breast which is usually painless and does not move around.
- Inward nipples.
- Fluid oozing from the nipple, which may contain blood.
- A sore or persisting rash around the nipple.
- Hardened skin that’s red or swollen on or around the nipple.
- Swollen armpit glands.
If you experience any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your GP immediately.
If the cancer has spread to other parts of your body, such as your bones, lungs or liver, the following symptoms may be experienced:
- Constant fatigue.
- Aching or pain in your bones.
- Shortness of breath.
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes, known as jaundice.
The actual cause of breast cancer in men is unknown, but the following factors could increase the likelihood of a diagnosis.
- Genetics — inheriting faulty versions of genes called BRCA1 or BRCA2 increases the risk of breast cancer.
- Radiotherapy to the chest area.
- Increased levels of oestrogen in the body caused by other conditions such as obesity, Klinefelter syndrome and scarring of the liver otherwise known as Cirrhosis.
CAUTION: Nothing is guaranteed but eating a well-balanced diet, losing weight if you’re considered obese and lowering your alcohol consumption may help.
The good news
The good news is that there is hope for men with breast cancer, although this depends on how far the cancer has spread by the time it is diagnosed. It may be possible to cure breast cancer if it is found early.
A cure is much less likely if the cancer is found after it has spread beyond the breast. In such cases, treatment can relieve symptoms and even expand your life expectancy.
Possible treatments include:
- Surgery to remove the affected breast tissue and nipple (mastectomy) and some of the glands in the armpit.
- Radiotherapy which is used to kill cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy which is where medicine is used to kill cancer cells.
Medicines that can help prevent breast cancer from growing include Tamoxifen and Trastuzumab (Herceptin).
To prevent breast cancer from returning, many men have surgery followed by 1 or more other treatment.
Being diagnosed with cancer is life-shattering for anyone. Thankfully there are lots of charities and support groups out there.
Cancer Research UK has Cancer Chat, an online forum for anyone affected by cancer. Men may find this particularly helpful as they can talk to other men who have been diagnosed.
Speak to your GP or care team if you’re struggling to come to terms with a diagnosis, they can offer you professional support and guidance.
For more information on breast cancer in men, click here.
Please do your bit by sharing this article to help raise awareness for men with breast cancer.