Opportunity Lives

Myth vs. Reality: Dispelling Common Misconceptions About Male Breast Cancer


Breast cancer in males is a topic often shrouded in misconceptions and misunderstandings. Despite being less common than breast cancer in women, male breast cancer deserves attention and awareness. Dispelling these myths is essential to ensure that men are informed about their risks, symptoms, and treatment options. To help set the record straight, HIS Breast Cancer Awareness, a leading charity with a mission of increasing awareness of the disease, has provided some insight into the myths and realities of the deadly disease. The information below will separate fact from fiction. 

Myth 1: Breast Cancer Only Affects Women


While breast cancer is more commonly associated with women, men can also develop the disease. Although it’s rare, men’s breast cancer accounts for approximately 1% of all breast cancer cases. Men have breast tissue, albeit less developed than women, making them susceptible to breast cancer. Ignoring the possibility of breast cancer can delay diagnosis and treatment, potentially leading to worse outcomes.

Myth 2: Only Older Men Can Get Breast Cancer


While the risk of developing breast cancer increases with age, it can occur in men of any age. While the majority of breast cancer cases occur in men over 60, younger men are not immune. It’s crucial for men of all ages to be aware of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer and to promptly report any changes to their healthcare provider.

Myth 3: Male Breast Cancer Is Less Serious Than Female Breast Cancer


Men’s breast cancer tends to be diagnosed at a later stage compared to women’s breast cancer, primarily due to a lack of awareness and screening programs targeted at men. However, once diagnosed, the treatment approach for breast cancer in males is similar to that for women and may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, or targeted therapy. Survival rates for men’s breast cancer are generally lower than for female breast cancer, emphasizing the importance of early detection and treatment.

Myth 4: Men Don’t Need to Perform Breast Self-Exams


While breast cancer screening guidelines primarily target women, men should also be proactive about their breast health. Performing regular breast self-exams can help men detect any abnormalities, such as lumps or changes in the breast tissue or nipple. If any concerning symptoms are noticed, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional promptly for further evaluation.

Myth 5: Gynecomastia (Enlarged Breast Tissue) Causes Breast Cancer in Men


Gynecomastia, a condition characterized by enlarged breast tissue in men, is relatively common and typically benign. However, having gynecomastia does not increase the risk of developing breast cancer. While gynecomastia can sometimes make it more challenging to detect breast cancer in men, it is not a direct cause of the disease.

Myth 6: Breast Cancer in Men Is Always Hereditary


While a family history of breast cancer or specific genetic mutations, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, can increase the risk of developing breast cancer in men, the majority of cases occur in individuals with no family history of the disease. Other risk factors, such as age, hormonal imbalances, obesity, and exposure to radiation or estrogen-related drugs, can also contribute to the development of breast cancer in men.

Myth 7: Men With Breast Cancer Always Experience Pain


Unlike some other types of cancer, such as prostate or testicular cancer, breast cancer typically does not cause pain in the early stages. Many men with breast cancer may not experience any symptoms initially, highlighting the importance of regular self-exams and screening for early detection.

Dispelling common misconceptions about male breast cancer is crucial for raising awareness, improving early detection, and ultimately saving lives. Chronic disease, like cancer, can turn a person’s life upside down. By debunking these myths and educating men about their risks and symptoms, we can empower them to take charge of their health and seek prompt medical attention if needed. Breast cancer in men may be rare, but it is a reality that warrants attention and understanding. Together, we can break the silence surrounding men’s breast cancer and ensure that all individuals receive the support and care they deserve.

Share This