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breast cancer awareness

Man Boobs! The Truth About Male Breast Cancer

Yes, men CAN get breast cancer.

I read a powerful story about Bret Miller who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 24! According to a Women’s Health article Bret was 17 when he first noticed the lump in his breast. His parents and doctors thought it would go away, thinking it was a calcium buildup brought on by puberty. Just before heading to college he brought it up again during a physical. And again the Dr. dismissed it. While finishing up college a few years later he noticed soreness and a yellow-orange discharge when he squeezed his nipple. As most men do, he ignored it and didn’t go to the Dr. Finally once he secured health insurance at his new job, Bret went for an appointment. The Dr he saw this time around took the lump seriously and suggested an ultrasound/mammogram. This is when he found out he had breast cancer.

Bret Miller

He found a surgeon who had experience performing mastectomies on men and initially suggested a double mastectomy. Bret pushed for a unilateral mastectomy (only removing tissue from the affected breast) instead and his doctor agreed after making a few phone calls to other experts. Then, his insurance company canceled the first surgery. Not many male mastectomies probably go pass their desks, notes Bret. They pushed back, and luckily, the insurance company cleared it. In May 2010, he had his right breast removed, followed by four rounds of chemo. On September 21, he had his last round of chemo, and his oncologist gave him the all clear. He’s been cancer-free ever since.

Bret is 28 now, and he still doesn’t know why or how he got breast cancer. He tested negative for BRCA genetic mutations and has no direct family history of breast cancer, though a few of his aunts and cousins have been diagnosed. “I mean, I was 24 years old, male, diagnosed with breast cancer,” says Bret. “It’s rare in itself. It’s one percent of all breast cancer cases and one percent of all male cancer cases, and the average age is not until mid-sixties. I was less than half of the average age and diagnosed with breast cancer.”

Although it is rare, less than 1% of all breast cancers occur in men. According to Breast Cancer.org in 2015, about 2,350 men are expected to be diagnosed with the disease.

Here is the truth about men and breast cancer. Boys and girls, men and women all have breast tissue.

Boys’ and men’s bodies normally don’t make much of the breast-stimulating hormones that girls and women stimulate that turn into full breasts. . As a result, their breast tissue usually stays flat and small. Still, you may have seen boys and men with medium-sized or big breasts (man boobs). Usually these breasts are just mounds of fat. But sometimes men can develop real breast gland tissue because they take certain medicines or have abnormal hormone levels.

There are a number of factors that can increase a mans risk of getting breast cancer including:

  • Growing older 
  • High estrogen levels, which can be caused by hormonal medicines, being overweight, heavy alcohol use, liver disease
  • Klinefelter syndrome – Normally men have a single X and single Y chromosome. Men with Klinefelter syndrome have more than one X chromosome (sometimes as many as four). Symptoms of Klinefelter syndrome include having longer legs, a higher voice, and a thinner beard than average men; having smaller than normal testicles; and being infertile (unable to produce sperm).
  • A strong family history of breast cancer
  • Radiation exposure

Here are some of the symptoms of male breast cancer

  • a lump felt in the breast
  • nipple pain
  • an inverted nipple
  • nipple discharge (clear or bloody)
  • sores on the nipple and areola (the small ring of color around the center of the nipple)
  • enlarged lymph nodes under the arm

So guys if you notice any chances in your chest/breast please contact your doctor, if they don’t give you any answers go for a second and third opinion.. As with female breast cancer early diagnosis could make a life-saving difference. Please do your research and learn more at Breastcancer.org and The American Cancer Society

Check out Bret’s foundation CheckThem.org to find out more about breast cancer in men and what you can do to fight for a cure.

Until next time…

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