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Hopefully you've realised by now that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If not, you've just got a few days left to join in the fundraising for this very worthy cause.
There's been an abundance of great Breast Cancer articles on the Net this month but a lot of them have been predictably female-focused (well, it's the female of the species that holds a monopoly in the Breast stakes, right?). Even the famous Breast Cancer 'pink ribbon' is undeniably girly. Actually, though, Breast Cancer is a subject that affects men too. So, not to ignore the devestating impact that this disease can have on women, this Blog's for the fellas who tend to get a little less attention and advice...
Although Breast Cancer in men is rare, about 300 UK men are diagnosed with the disease each year. It is not a condition which is typically associated with men, because people don't even think of men as having 'breasts' but they do in fact have breast tissue behind their nipples which is the area that male Breast Cancer develops in.
At Aurora Clinics, we hear of male Breast Cancer in relation to our most popular male breast surgery procedure - Gynecomastia Surgery. Gynecomastia is excessive breast tissue in males (sometimes cruelly called 'man boobs'). In these cases, patients often worry that their Gynecomastia is a symptom of Breast Cancer because both can present as a hardened lump behind the nipples. In actual fact, though, Gynecomastia is a completely benign condition just due to excess fatty tissue. The irony is that men with Gynecomastia are probably safer when it comes to male Breast Cancer: because they are so conscious of their 'man boobs' or male breasts, they are already constantly examining them and very aware of any changes or abnormalities. The danger with many men is that, because they do not even think of themselves as having breasts, they would not notice at all if they were one of those unlucky 1/300 who did develop an abnormal lump behind the nipple.
One other link between Gynecomastia and Breast Cancer is that both are associated with Klinefelter Syndrome (where men are born with one or more extra X chromosones). Gynecomastia is a potential symptom of this syndrome and Klinefelter's can, in turn, make men more predisposed to male Breast Cancer.
Other factors which can make a man more susceptible to male Breast Cancer include: age, family genetic history of breast cancer, being overweight and drinking a lot of alcohol.
If you are a man concerned about male Breast Cancer (or a wife / partner worried about the man in your life) the rule of thumb is "if in doubt, check it out"! We all know men like to put on a brave face and bottle things up (unless they have the dreaded 'man-flu') so some men do need a gently nudge down to the GP's office. But it could be the best decision you ever make, even just to get some reassurance.