When we think breast cancer, many of us think pink ribbons and a sorority of survivors and supporters. Unfortunately, an important percentage is often forgotten. One in ten men are diagnosed with breast cancer, and although this number is significantly less than women, a diagnosis for breast cancer in men brings along an entirely different set of challenges. One cultural conception of disease is a disease being a cultural stigma. Many men do not know that having breast cancer is even a possibility and think of it as a “woman’s disease.” Men diagnosed with breast cancer often go into a state of shock, confusion and embarrassment along with the other concerns a cancer diagnosis includes.
Many women know when the harmful BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 inherited gene runs in their family, and these women are more likely to get frequently tested. Many men, however, are unaware that they are also susceptible to inheriting these genes. Often, a male diagnosis can be more fatal, because they do not know they should be looking for warning signs. These symptoms become more dangerous the longer they are left untreated.
The Health Belief Model explains that if people are more aware of potential risk and harm they face, they are more likely to take preventative action. There needs to be more health campaigns to raise attention to the cause. There are some organizations, such as The BLUE WAVE and H.I.S Breast Cancer Foundation, who are making efforts to spread awareness for male breast cancer by holding events for men and women diagnosed with breast cancer to support each other and raise awareness. Most importantly, their mission is to ensure these men they are not alone. Even though some groups have begun to spread the word, a large challenge still remains to beat the stigma of men with breast cancer.
– Rachel Edwards, Dylan Fowler, Ashley Creps, Chad Darrah, Ryan Nagy