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  • Warning Signs of Male Breast Cancer

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    Mayra Sandoval receives many anonymous calls as a Komen breast care helpline specialist. One call she remembers in particular was from a distressed wife inquiring about a lump her husband found within his chest.

    In addition to the immediate medical concern, she was even more worried because they did not have health insurance.

    “I provided the wife with various resources, as well as fact sheets on breast cancer in men,” Sandoval said. “Men don’t call the helpline as often as women. Men appear to be more ashamed of the stigma of having a ‘female’ disease.”

    Sandoval believes awareness of breast cancer in men is key in educating the public about judged or perceived gender views when it comes to the disease.

    This past year, about 14,000 people contacted the Susan G. Komen helpline seeking assistance for breast cancer related issues – seeking advice and financial assistance, learning about their diagnoses and more. Of those nearly 14,000 contacts, 624 were male-related breast cancer inquires.

    While it is widely acknowledged that one in eight women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, it is often overlooked how men can get breast cancer too.

    Breast cancer in men is rare in the United States, one in 1,000 U.S men will be diagnosed with breast cancer, but it is still imperative for everyone to know their risk.

    In addition to knowing their family history, it is important for men to be aware of the most common sign of breast cancer. Most often, it is a painless lump or thickening in the breast or chest area.

    However, any change in the breast or nipple can be a warning sign of breast cancer in men including:

    • Lump, hard knot or thickening in the breast, chest or underarm area (usually painless, but may be tender)
    • Change in the size or shape of the breast
    • Dimpling, puckering or redness of the skin of the breast
    • Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
    • Pulling in of the nipple (inverted nipple) or other parts of the breast

    Because men tend to have much less breast tissue compared to women, some of these signs can be easier to notice in men than in women.

    “Hopefully we will continue to gather more information on breast cancer in men to further awareness of the disease,” Sandoval said.

    This June during men’s health month, Komen encourages men to be aware of all potential health issues - not just those considered common. Knowing your body, health history and regularly seeing your doctor are the best ways to be sure any issues are detected as early as possible – which helps save lives.

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