Male Breast Cancer: Helpful Resources & Online Support
Entering the world of pink can be a challenge, from the blank looks at medical receptionist counters, as in, where’s the patient, to being handed a pink gown in preparation for a mammogram. Although male breast cancer is a rare disease, just one percent of new cases are men1,2, it’s fortunate there is a variety of online resources to help newly diagnosed men.
Diagnosed with male breast cancer
Guys have their own special issues and while there is lots of information online about breast cancer, you have to dig deep to better understand breast cancer in men. Especially since we’re very often getting diagnosed with later stages of the disease because either we or our medical practitioners are failing to recognize early symptoms. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine:
“The survival rates and prognosis for men are not as good as it is for women. Men have a 25 percent higher mortality rate than women.”1,2
Ideally, breast cancer charities would do more to educate people in raising awareness of the simple fact that this is a genderless disease. Sometimes we are an inconvenient truth, and much of the marketing targets a population being asked to dig deep and donate for a women’s disease.
Myths and facts about male breast cancer
Because men don’t generally check themselves for breast lump, and because their general practitioners are not attuned to looking out for the disease in men, we can easily slip below the radar. So many men are diagnosed late, which means their prognosis is not equivalent with women diagnosed at a similar stage.3 Then there are many myths and facts about male breast cancer.
Men diagnosed with breast cancer are advised to take a genetic test because your diagnosis has implications for your relatives.1 Men can carry BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations and can be at increased risk for certain cancers. Men with a BRCA mutation and a family history of cancer should speak to a physician to develop a personalized testing plan for those cancers.4
Online resources for men
Here is a list of online resources I've found helpful after my male breast cancer diagnosis.
- Signs of breast cancer in men.
- Statistics for men with breast cancer.
- Surgery is on the cards for all men with this disease.
- Sex and intimacy following treatment is an important consideration.
- Metastasis is the spread of cancer from where it began, to other places in the body.5
- MaleBC.org includes topics such as diagnosis, treatment, genetics, surgery, metastasis, awareness and personal resilience, often gained through social media contacts, can help you overcome challenges.
Groups for men
Many breast cancer charities now have a section of their websites explaining how men can get what has long been thought of as a women’s disease. Fortunately, men also have a group of like-minded individuals who have been there, done that with all aspects of the disease. The Male Breast Cancer Coalition welcomes men wishing to learn from other men about their diagnosis and treatment. Reading their survivor stories will help lift your spirits. They also hold a male-specific breast cancer conference annually.
Do you have an MBC mentor/mentee?