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
Speaking from a man’s perspective, I’ve only heard about men having breast cancer a few times in my life, and it never was a really serious conversation topic. My great aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years back, and when my parents informed me of this they briefly told me, “You know men can get breast cancer too, right?” That was the extent of the conversation, and before I read this post I hadn’t thought about the possibility that men are capable of developing breast cancer. The word definitely needs to get out more about this grave disease. When I think of women getting cancer, the first type I think of is breast cancer. Also, when I think of men getting cancer I think of testicular or prostate. I think the media has played a key part in stereotyping different types of cancer and what type men or women are susceptible to. Cancer is such a scary thing that it is hard to bring up, and prevention of it probably isn’t talked about enough. If I hadn’t of read this post, I probably would have gone another few years without hearing about the possibility of men developing breast cancer.
In conclusion, I definitely agree with the Health Belief Model that word needs to get out more about this terrible disease so preventative actions can be taken by more men so the number of victims and those effected can be lessened greatly.
This article really interested me and made me realize how gender biased people tend to think. I. myself, never really considered that men are also susceptible to breast cancer because it is more presented as a “female disease.” Pink also being the signature color of breast cancer awareness, it is natural for one to think of just females pertaining to this. It makes complete sense that men can also be apart of this group and reminds you that there is two colors (pink and blue) that make up the breast cancer awareness ribbon.
I was completely unaware that the number of men that are diagnosed with breast cancer is 1 in every 10! That is a lot higher than I thought and before reading this post I just assumed that breast cancer in men was pretty rare. Thank you for sharing this blog and helping me become more aware!