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October offers endless opportunities to raise awareness for breast cancer: the color pink and calls to schedule mammograms are seemingly inescapable. And for good reason, as a woman is diagnosed in the United States with breast cancer approximately every 2 minutes.
But breast cancer diagnoses happen all year, and women aren’t the only ones who should pay attention to their bodies—no matter the time of year.
Men can have breast cancer, and they often find it at a later stage. But like women, they need to know their risk and what to look for.
“Early detection of male breast cancer can make a lifesaving difference,” says Dr. Meghan Musser, diagnostic radiologist at Kettering Health and medical director of Kettering Health Breast Centers. “If you notice any changes in your breasts, don’t wait to have them evaluated by your doctor.”
An emerging trend
In 2021, an estimated 2,650 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in men in the U.S.—an increase in cases from recent years. Though this accounts for only about 1% of all breast cancer diagnoses in the U.S., men should still understand their risk.
Men do not routinely get screening mammograms. And they’re less likely than women to report warning signs or symptoms of breast cancer. As a result, this can lead to a delay in diagnosis and risk of developing other cancers.
Know what to look for
The first step is to acknowledge men can be diagnosed with breast cancer. And knowing how to pay attention to changes in his body is the second.
Men should speak to their doctor about any changes in their breast or nipple area.
“The most common symptoms of male breast cancer are a palpable lump, nipple inversion, skin changes, and nipple discharge,” says Dr. Musser.
Reporting these changes is vital to appropriate and timely treatment.