Every year, 56,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer, but roughly 400 men who are dealt with the same life-changing news aren’t often spoken about.
Due to the relatively low number of cases (compared to women), it is under-discussed and under-researched, resulting in the spread of false information and lack of awareness. This October, Breast Cancer UK, is working hard to change this.
One thing to highlight is that the lower rate of breast cancer in men does not equate to immunity. Most UK patients are diagnosed between the ages of 60-70, on average 5-10 years later than the age of diagnosis in women. The incidence of breast cancer in men has remained stable in the UK for most age groups for the past 20 years. However, it has increased in the 65-69 age group by around 38%.
Even though the risk of breast cancer is much lower for men, some things can increase this. These include being overweight, eating a poor diet (high in processed food and alcohol consumption), chemical exposure and genetics.
The signs men should look out for:
● A breast lump that is typically firm, painless, and immobile within the breast
● Nipple inversion or inward turning
● Nipple discharge, which may contain streaks of blood
● Persistent soreness or rash around the nipple
● Hardening, redness, or swelling of the nipple or surrounding skin
Presence of small swollen bumps in the armpit (enlarged glands
So how can you help your male patients who may have little awareness of the disease? One place to start might be with our top tips to help men reduce their risk of breast cancer:
● Maintain a healthy weight for your height
● Move more – being active can significantly reduce your risk
● Eat a varied diet high in fruit and vegetables, eat less processed meat and other processed food
● Drink less, follow guidelines of no more than 14 units (equal to 6 pints of beer) a week
● Reduce your exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) found in everyday products
Taking the Breast Cancer UK Prevention quiz is a great way to help men understand how they can make changes in their everyday lives to reduce their risk.
This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, let’s ensure we include our male patients in the conversation too.