You've heard the phrase, I'm sure-there are two sides to every story.
Of course, some stories are bigger than others, and certain sides can go unseen.
If you didn't know, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Chances are this deadly disease has affected a woman in your life. But I'd like to call your attention to the disease's lesser-discussed target: men.
I consider myself somewhat of a "man's man." I wear ink, I love moving iron, and certain people have even been known to call me "intimidating."
Surprised, then, to hear me talk about male breast cancer?
It's a real issue that requires greater awareness, so let's "man up" and talk.
Talk Is Tough
The term "male breast cancer" might sound like an oxymoron, but, men can also get breast cancer. All men have some breast tissue, and even though it is a minimal amount of tissue, cancer can still form in this breast tissue just like it can in a female's.
Luckily, it's a rare occurrence, but that makes it all the more difficult for those men who come face to face with this form of cancer. It's bad enough they have a life-threatening disease, let alone a disease that is only thought of as a female issue. As a result, much of the medical and social support that normally surrounds a breast cancer diagnosis may not be there.
The fact that it is called breast cancer can make it even more embarrassing for men living with it. Many men don't want to admit to anyone that they have a disease associated with "breasts." This will often cause guys to hide or ignore their symptoms, which can delay their diagnosis-with potentially deadly consequences.
Denial can undoubtedly play a role: since most men never imagine getting breast cancer, they wait far too long to seek the medical attention they need when the first warning signals arise.
So what are those warning signals? See a doctor immediately if you notice any of the following:
- A painless lump or thickening in your chest
- Changes to the skin on your chest (i.e. dimpling, puckering, redness, scaling)
- Changes to your nipple, such as redness, scaling or turning inward
- Discharge from your nipple
Make no mistake: Women face a MUCH greater chance of confronting breast cancer. Male breast cancer accounts for only about 1% of all breast cancers. It's estimated that every year there are approximately 2,000 new cases of male breast cancer and 400 men will die each year from it. This pales in comparison to the 40,000 or so women who die from breast cancer each year.
But any of us could be among those 2,000 cases.
If a man is diagnosed with male breast cancer at an early stage, he has a good chance for a cure. Still, many men delay seeing their doctors if they notice unusual signs or symptoms. They either are uninformed that they can get breast cancer or are even embarrassed by it.
For this reason, many male breast cancers are diagnosed only when the disease is more advanced, and thus harder to treat.
AWARENESS SAVES LIVES - MAYBE YOURS
My hope is to make more men realize that this is a reality in an effort to educate them so that any man who may feel a lump in his chest or any other signs of breast cancer gets the immediate attention he needs.
My other hope is to help more men who suffer with this disease come forward. Only when more guys start talking about male breast cancer can more men find support from others who have also suffered from it.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
The best thing you can do in addition to watching yourself for any signs or symptoms is to talk about male breast cancer with your friends. Spread the word that it exists. You never know whose life you may save with this little bit of information.
Also be sure to donate, if you can, to the National Breast Cancer Foundation (www.nationalbreastcancer.org) and the Male Breast Cancer Foundation in Memory of Mr. John W. Nick (www.malebreastcancer.org)
Another great way to donate to the cure is to become a member of my website: www.jimstoppani.com.
For the entire month of October, I will donate $5 to the Male Breast Cancer Foundation for every new membership I receive. Simply click on the link below to join my FREE newsletter and I will email you a special link you can use if you decide to join my site. This special link will automatically take $5 from your membership fee and donate it to the Male Breast Cancer Foundation.