Listen up: Breast cancer affects men too
While breast cancer is usually associated with women, a recent campaign held by the breast cancer awareness initiative Pink Caravan has highlighted the existence of the disease in males after result analysis revealed that a 48-year-old Emirati man had malignant breast cancer.
The recent cancer awareness campaign which has encouraged thousands of people to receive free screening and check-ups showed that the Emirati man, Azam, had a lump in his chest that had gone unchecked for more than six years.
After being referred for an ultrasound and a number of tests including a mammogram and biopsy Azam was advised to undergo a mastectomy where his whole breast would be removed.
With the majority of breast cancer patients being women, the overlooked matter of breast cancer in men is a common misconception, said Dr. Sawsan Al Madhi, Secretary General for Friends of Cancer Patients charitable society (FoCP) and Head of the Pink Caravan’s Medical and Awareness committee.
“Male breast cancer is very real, a fact that was underscored by the identification of a man with breast cancer during this year’s Pink Caravan Ride,” she said.
Considering that the disease mainly affects women, raising awareness about male breast cancer is quite challenging, said Dr. Sawsan.
“Firstly, many men simply do not wish to believe that breast cancer could ever affect them, in their minds it is a female problem that does not concern them,” she said, adding that this misconception can significantly decrease their chances of early detection.
“Secondly, the social stigma that is often associated with breast cancer grows exponentially when the individual diagnosed is male, which means that many male breast cancer patients are only diagnosed at a very late stage due to a ‘head in the sand’ mentality,” added Dr. Sawsan.
Despite the lower number of male breast cancer patients, it is extremely important that men are aware of the signs of breast cancer in the case of any suspicious growths in the breast area.
Referring to early detection as the “most important weapon”, Dr. Sawsan said that it is even more vital in the cases of male breast cancer. “Although men have significantly less breast tissue, therefore lowering their chances of developing breast cancer, the downside is that breast tumors in men have a higher tendency to spread to nearby areas, such as the skin covering the breast or the muscles under the breast, therefore increasing the risk of the cancer reaching the metastatic phase,” she explained to Gulf News.