Breast cancer awareness month is so important because it shines a light on something we would all rather ignore, but all feel the effects of. However, during this month it is so often forgotten that women are not the only victims of breast cancer. While it’s rare for men to deal with breast cancer, it’s not unheard of.

You might be thinking, “how are men diagnosed with breast cancer?” Good question. Since all men have some residual breast tissue cancer can form in this tissue, just like any other part of the body. Symptoms of breast cancer in men include:

  • A lump or swelling, which is usually (but not always) painless

  • Skin dimpling or puckering

  • Nipple retraction (turning inward)

  • Redness or scaling of the nipple or breast skin

  • Discharge from the nipple

These symptoms are not all that different from the symptoms women exhibit prior to their diagnosis, however, men are often more hesitant to see a physician since there is much less discussion and awareness of breast cancer in men than women. Doctors have also been known to misdiagnose men with breast cancer or fail to diagnose them at all since it is so rare.

About 1 in 1,000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. While breast cancer is 100 times less common in men than in women, the American Cancer Society predicts that in 2017 2,470 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer & 460 men will die from it.

Breast cancer is “staged” the same way in men and women to summarize how far along the cancer is. The tumor staging goes from TX – T4:

  • TX: Primary tumor cannot be assessed.

  • T0: No signs of a primary breast tumor.

  • Tis: Carcinoma in situ (either DCIS or Paget disease of the nipple with no associated tumor mass)

  • T1 (includes T1a, b, and c): Tumor is 2 cm (3/4 of an inch) or less across.

  • T2: Tumor is more than 2 cm but not more than 5 cm (2 inches) across.

  • T3: Tumor is more than 5 cm across.

  • T4: Tumor of any size growing into the chest wall or skin.

N followed by a number 0-3 tells if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. The least severe, N0 means no cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. The most severe, N3 means the cancer has spread to axillary lymph nodes and is larger than 2mm.

M followed by a 0 or 1 indicates if the cancer has spread to distant organs. M0 means no spread is detected, and M1 means there is present spread to other organs.

Once diagnosed, treatment for men with breast cancer is similar if not identical to treatment for women. They can undergo mastectomies, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted treatment therapy, or various other types of medical treatments.

Peter Criss, the original drummer of KISS, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007. He famously said “you don’t need boobs to get breast cancer.”

Rod Roddy, the famous 17 year host of The Price is Right was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002, and lost his battle to the disease the following year after a double mastectomy.

Edward Brooke, the first African-American elected to the Senate in 1966, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002. He underwent a double mastectomy and remained cancer free until his death in 2015.

Now that you know, remind the men in your life just how important it is to pay attention to the signs your body gives you and go see a doctor when something’s wrong! While breast cancer is primarily a “woman’s disease,” let’s remember to be mindful of the men across the nation who have dealt with this disease and help keep those we love healthy.

Future Female Leaders is donating 50% of our net proceeds from our ThinkPink line to Breast Cancer Research Foundation, where 91% of funding goes directly to breast cancer research and awareness. Please consider supporting our campaign by purchasing our ThinkPink products here

Corrie L
FFL Cabinet Member
Corrie is a Cabinet Member at FFL. She is passionate about coffee, Jesus, and lipstick, and never wears white after Labor Day. If she isn't busy talking about law school or FFL, you can find her studying constitutional law or reviewing a contract. Her plan A is Super Mom turned Supreme Court Justice, and she hopes to one day be just like Sandra Day O"Connor.

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