Monday, 17 June 2013

On Father's Day: Male Breast Cancer (MBC), Adding Blue to the Pink

The 3rd Sunday of June is Father's Day in Canada, where we observe this warm occasion to honor fathers and father figures. So Happy, belated, Father's Day! :) We cannot say enough about a father/father-figure in our lives; these two quotes caught our attention today: "My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person; he believed in me" --Jim Valvano. "When a father fives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry" --William Shakespeare. Now in this occasion, would you consider educating yourself a bit about men and breast cancer? Not many celebrations pass by us that remind us of male figures, right? Why not mention to dad that it could happen and to warn them to be observant of unusual signs?

On Father's Day week, let's know more about Male Breast Cancer (MBC). As men also have breast tissue, they could develop breast diseases such as cancer. "Although men are at risk at any age, the majority of MBC cases are diagnosed in men between the ages of 60-70 years" (2). It's rare in men but it happens! According to CBCF, "fewer than one per cent of all breast cancers occur in men." In 2013, "an estimated 23,800 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 200 cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in men." An alarming fact, though, is that "despite the small number of cases, breast cancer in men is not well understood, stigmatized, and can be mis-diagnosed or diagnosed late" (1).

What do men have to look for, then? The most common signs are:

- painless lump near the nipple, or
- discharge from the nipple  

Luckily for men, as they have less fat tissue, lumps can be easily detected but men may ignore early signs due to their lack of knowledge of the symptoms! So learn and educate other men in your life. Same with women's, early detection is vital. Men should seek medical assistance upon detecting the following:
- lumps/thickening of the skin in the breast area,
- nipple changes or discharge from the nipple,
- redness of the skin or nipple,
- skin changes,
- dimpling or puckering, and
- swelling or pain in the breast are or under the arm.

Risk factors for MBC include:

- higher than average levels of estrogen,
- age (mostly after 60), and
- testicular conditions.

What to do to reduce the risk?

- regular exercise,
- healthier body weight,
- quitting smoking, and
- limiting alcohol consumption.

Don't forget that men, too, have to know how their breasts look like and feel in order to notice any abnormal changes if they to occur.

An important point to keep in mind regarding MBC is that men diagnosed with breast cancer "may feel some stigma or they may feel very alone" (1). Looking at the bright side, there is plenty of resources on the CBCF and the web about information and support. (For example, This video is by Herb Wagner from Male Breast Cancer Organization in his relentless effort to educate men on MBC; you got to admire this man's courage to wear pink and be an advocate for breast cancer and the organization's logo "A man's pink, adding blue to the pink":  

Finally, here is a fun one for Dad! 

Again, Happy and MBC-Free Father's Day to all fathers and father figures in Canada and around the world!

1- Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF):
2- Male Breast Cancer (MBC): 


- Male Breast Cancer Organization:
and on YouTube: 


  1. Good on you for creating awareness about this "people's" disease. My 45 year old husband has just completed treatment for male breast cancer. His presented as PAINFUL, he thought it was a rib injury. He also does not meet any of the risk criteria. Men check your pecs!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. I hope your husband is in good health now! Yes, men do check yours too!

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