Do the words "football, men, breast cancer" strike the reader of this article as a strange combination? Most readers would probably answer "yes." Most readers would find that phrase to be as illogical as the phrases "wrestling, men, breast cancer" or "ice hockey, men, breast cancer."
Yet until the public can offer a ready response to such phrases and until the public can appreciate the implications of such phrases, male breast cancer will continue to take a toll on an appreciable number of families. Until the public can develop a greater awareness of breast cancer in men, the funds needed, in order to reach all the men at risk, will not be forthcoming.
What men stand the greatest chances of getting breast cancer? There are six groups of men who face an increased chance for developing breast cancer. Men between 60 and 70 years of age are in one group. Men who have watched female family members deal with breast cancer face a greater risk of getting breast cancer. Often, but not in all cases, such men have the BRCA2 gene.
Men who were previously exposed to radiation in the chest area stand a greater chance of getting breast cancer. Men with liver disease, a condition that raises the estrogen level in the body, join the men who are at greatest risk for breast cancer. Men who take estrogen put themselves at risk by thus raising the estrogen concentration in their bloodstream. Men with Kleinfelter's syndrome, i.e. men with an XXY in their karyotype, also have a raised estrogen level, and a greater chance of getting breast cancer.
What are the symptoms of male breast cancer? They are the same as the symptoms for female breast cancer. The list of symptoms includes a breast lump, swelling of the breast, skin puckering in the breast region, retraction of the breast nipple, redness of the nipple, scaling of the nipple or a discharge from the nipple. If those symptoms go unreported, then the breast cancer can rapidly invade the tissue beyond the breast tissue.
That is why it is so important to educate the public about breast cancer in men. Men need to feel more comfortable about reporting the above symptoms. Men need to understand that having breast cancer does not reflect upon a man's ability to be a man. It does not make a man less "macho."
Still in order to spread the word about the risks of male breast cancer, money must be spent on public relations efforts. By the same token, in order to encourage more men to seek a swift and professional treatment, breast cancer organizations need more money. Those needed funds might come from campaigns with catch phrases such as "NASCAR, men, breast cancer" or "Soccer, men, breast cancer."
If the public would show a strong positive response to such phrases, then fewer men would neglect to report the symptoms of breast cancer. If the public could see the logic in such phrases, then physicians would hear sooner about new cases of male breast cancer. As a result, the prompt discovery of such breast cancers would offer a greater chance for a complete and effective cure.