Male Breast Cancer Awareness Week was established in 2009 as a result of a collaboration between several male breast cancer organizations, including Out of the Shadow of Pink. While it is not a national holiday yet, the week has been officially declared in several states including Pennsylvania (2010), Florida (2011), New Jersey (2012), and Massachusetts (2012).
We couldn’t be happier about this special week, just for the guys. Male breast cancer isn’t something that gets a lot of attention. Many people believe that it isn’t possible for men to get breast cancer. We even wrote an article dispelling the myth that men can’t get breast cancer and it’s a topic we always cover in our breast health workshops we give to schools, businesses, and community groups.
The truth is that 1% of all breast cancer cases occur in men. And according to breast cancer statistics from the American Cancer Society, more than 2,000 men are diagnosed every year, with 450 of those eventually dying from the disease. That’s an extremely high mortality rate, much higher than women’s breast cancer, due almost entirely to last-stage diagnosis that resulted from lack of early detection.
Besides being more aware of breast cancer in men, what can the guys do to take action during Male Breast Cancer Awareness Week? For men, like women, doing a breast self-exam can be extremely helpful in detecting signs of breast cancer early and improving chances of survival. Sometimes simply being aware of your body and promptly getting changes checked out by a doctor can make all the difference in a diagnosis. One of the early detection success stories we are most proud of comes from a man who found a lump on his chest and got it checked out as a result of our programs.
At Leviton’s annual health fair, a gentleman came by our booth and told us that his girlfriend discovered a lump in his lower chest area. Remembering what he read from our brochure that 1% of all breast cancer cases are men, and 20% of men who are diagnosed die, he chose not to ignore the lump. Thankfully the lump was benign; however a scan showed the early stages of pancreatic cancer. He was very grateful for what he learned at the wellness fair and said that the we played a significant role in his decision to seek medical attention.”
—Laura Culhane, Program Educator
How are you celebrating Male Breast Cancer Awareness week? We’d love to hear your ideas!