Breast Cancer Awareness Month: What About The Men?

Life & Love | Camille Travis | 10/07/2013 | 04:00 PM EDT

The Statistics Remain Low, But Should Not Be Overlooked

As we continue to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month-- flooded with pink ribbons, limited edition pink products and an urge to "Save The Ta-Tas" (as offensive as that might be)-- we'd be remiss to overlook how the disease affects men. While the rates remain low among adult males, the threat still lingers.

According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 2,240 new cases of breast cancer in men will be reported this year, with an estimated 410 deaths. So what's the disconnect? Men aren't encouraged to check for signs because it’s typically thought to be a “women’s health concern” and once it’s discovered, the cancer is at an advanced stage when the survival rate is lower.

And, similar to African-American women, AA men die at a higher rate than their Caucasian male counterparts.

Of course, the common misconception that “men don’t get breast cancer” ceases to exist with famous faces revealing their battles.

Richard Roundtree, known for his roles in the Shaft franchise, faced the diagnosis in 1993 after finding a lump while filming a movie in Costa Rica. The actor admitted to keeping quiet for more than five years until he was declared cancer-free.

Today, he stands as a survivor and awareness advocate for male breast cancer.

Former NFL star and fellow breast cancer survivor Ernie Green battled through eight sessions of chemotherapy and several years of tamoxifen during his fight—a struggle far tougher than any competitor on the gridiron. He too serves as an advocate, while remembering to pencil in his yearly follow-up mammograms.

While the causes of breast cancer within males are not fully known, studies suggest they are related to environmental and genetic factors, as well as high levels of estrogen. The disease tends to affect males between the ages of 60- and 70-years-old.

Early detection is key, so what are the signs of breast cancer within males? (Via Susan G. Komen for the Cure):

* Abnormal lumps or swelling in the breast, nipple or chest muscle
* Skin dimpling or puckering
* Nipple retraction (turning inward)
* Redness or scaling of the nipple or breast skin
* Nipple discharge

The most common surgical treatment for men is a modified radical mastectomy, but chemotherapy, radiation, targeted therapy and hormone therapy might also be suggested if diagnosed.

Should you suffer from any of the symptoms, schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.

Your life depends on it.

For ways to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month, check out our suggestions here.

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