A small number of men get breast cancer every year, yet many men think of breast cancer as a woman’s disease. When they notice a breast lump, they are likely to dismiss it as “nothing to worry about” and take no action.

In Australia, 25 men are diagnosed with cancer every year. Men who have faced the challenge of breast cancer know to their cost “anyone can get cancer.”

That’s why Breast Cancer Network Australia has put together a booklet titled Men Get Breast Cancer Too, with comprehensive information on treatment and what to expect post op.

Men’s Breast Cancer Experiences

There’s no doubt an information of booklet was needed.

Breast Cancer Network Australia has personal stories from three men diagnosed with breast cancer and each reports feeling “left out” and side lined for a time with an illness which most people think of as a woman’s problem.

‘Alan’ reports there was no written material available that was suitable for men, and he relied heavily on another breast cancer survivor Bill for advice and support.

Says ‘Norman’:  “During the days that I was in hospital I saw people who I later understood were counsellors visiting the rooms with ladies who had undergone a mastectomy operation. I felt upset by the fact that I had gone through the same operation but there seemed to be no support for me - even the brochures on the front desk were all directed to women.”

And says Craig:  “I found it hard that everything is geared towards women. Pink doctors’ surgeries, linen, gowns, pamphlets, magazines – everything, and it’s just everywhere (and rightly so I might add. I sure don’t want to undermine that in any way). It did add to that experience of isolation for me though, and made me feel much much less of a man. “

Risk Factors for Male Breast Cancer

The Breast Cancer Network Australia says:
  • Average age of diagnosis for men is 69
  • Less than 1 per cent of breast cancers are in men
  • Most men recover and suffer no recurrence
  • 85 per cent of men are alive five years later
Risk factors include:
  • Age – a man’s risk of developing breast cancer increases with age
  • A known BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation or a strong family history
  • Higher oestrogen levels (caused by obesity, long-term liver conditions, or some genetic conditions such as Klinefelter’s syndrome)
  • Past radiotherapy treatment particularly of the chest area.
Most men have a good response to treatment. Seek doctor’s advice as soon as you notice any problem and you’ll improve your chances of being one of those with a very good outcome.