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One in one hundred men are diagnosed with breast cancer

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. One in eight. Let that sink in for a minute.

Throughout the year we have awareness months for all kinds of causes, but we don’t know anything past the title itself. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

What is Breast Cancer? Breast cancer is a disease whereby malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast. This form of cancer is the second leading cause of death among women.  Everyone whether male or female, is born with some breast cells and tissue. Regardless of the fact that the male sex does not develop milk producing breasts, a man’s breast cells and tissue can still develop cancer. As a matter of fact, 1 in 100 men are diagnosed with breast cancer, surprising isn’t it? But it is all so true to American Football Fallbacker Ernie Green who is a survivor of breast cancer amongst many others. The most frequent type of breast cancer for men is “Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma” which simply put means, cancer which has spread to the surrounding breast tissues that started from the milk ducts.

Wish to know some of the symptoms? The most common and recognised one is a new lump or mass in the breast. Others include nipple discharge or redness, breast/nipple pain, swelling of part of the breast or dimpling of the skin over the breast. For men, the most common symptom is a lump beneath the nipple.

As one gets older (men and women), the risk of getting breast cancer increases. Family history also plays a part; men and women who have close relatives with the disease (mother, daughter, sister) are twice as likely to develop breast cancer. If one has personal history, for example having been diagnosed with breast cancer in one breast, the chances of cancer in the other breast or an additional/reoccurrence in the original breast increases. Women who started their menstrual cycle at a younger age (before the age of 12) are also at a higher risk and on the other side; women who went through menopause later (after 55) have a slightly increased risk. You may or may not know this but having no children or having your first child after the age of 30 increases the risk of breast cancer. There is an increased risk of breast cancer for men who have elevated levels of estrogen, previous radiation exposure as well as a rare genetic condition called Klinefelter’s syndrome.

Now, I’ve stated quite a few high risk factors, let me flip it around and tell you a couple of ways of lowering the risk of developing breast cancer. The most obvious one because let’s face it, it’s good for one’s health in general is exercise! Exercise in the postmenopausal phase in a woman’s life lowers the risk. Another one is breastfeeding, doing this for at least one year over a woman’s lifetime has been shown to lower the risk.

It is not all bad news though, screening tests are conducted for those who may appear healthy and are not suspected of having breast cancer. The purpose of this is to detect breast cancer early before any symptoms can develop and the cancer is usually easy to treat. Yearly screenings are recommended.

Well known figures who are survivors of breast cancer include, the former U.S first lady, Nancy Reagan, popular singer Anastacia and the popular tv personality and journalist, Giuliana Rancic.  While many have beaten breast cancer some have succumbed, don’t let that be you. Educate your friends and family, be aware!

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