It's October, which means its Breast Cancer Awareness Month again.
With that in mind, I wanted to share something that most people just aren't aware of, and that never seems to get mentioned this time of year.
Namely, that men can and do get breast cancer too.
As one might expect, women make up the vast majority of breast cancer cases. The American Cancer Society estimates that there are about 1000 new breast cancer diagnoses in men each year, and that's less than 1% of the 1.3 million new breast cancer diagnoses in women each year.
And this is the whole point of my bringing it up...
A higher percentage of the men diagnosed with breast cancer will die of it than the women diagnosed with it.
Last year, out of nearly 1900 cases of breast cancer in men, 670 of ended in the death of the patient. That's just around a 35% mortality rate. Compare that to the following: out of nearly 1.2 million cases of breast cancer in women last year, 40,000 ended in death. That's just over 3%. Simply put, the death rate for men who have breast cancer is 10 times the death rate for women.
According to the American Cancer Society, the primary reason is that, given all the attention put on female breast cancer patients, and in preventing breast cancer in women, most of society (men and women both) have been trained to think of breast cancer as a female-only disease. Men don't even bother to check for lumps, much less know what to do if they find one.
Don't get me wrong here. Breast cancer in women is a devastating national health problem, but thanks to extensive education programs, women are well aware of breast cancer. They know that they are supposed to examine their breasts monthly, undergo regular mammograms and report suspicious lumps to their physicians.
Men, on the other hand? They don't bother. After all, they don't have breasts, right?
Well, think about it. When was the last time you ever heard of a man with breast cancer?
Back when it was on, the television show "Nip/Tuck" did a few episodes of that dealt with a male breast cancer patient... and FOX promptly got picketed because of it. They were accused of "exploiting a deadly problem among women". Except the problem, while much rarer, is much more deadly for men.
Just something to keep in mind during this month of pink ribbons and picture upon picture of smiling female breast cancer survivors.