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Think Pink? Breast Cancer Not Just a Woman's Disease

About 2,500 men in the United States are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. (Komen Austin/Flickr)
About 2,500 men in the United States are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. (Komen Austin/Flickr)
October 16, 2017

FRANKFORT, Ky. - "Think Pink" events throughout October are reminding Kentuckians about Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and while pink is a color synonymous with girls, breast cancer doesn't discriminate by gender.

About 2,500 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States this year, along with 250,000 women.

Lynn Erdman, chief executive of the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, encouraged both women and men to be aware of changes in their bodies. While breast self-exams aren't always the answer to detecting cancer early, she said, they can help detect changes.

"It may be changes in skin coloring, it could be a dimpling, it could be a lump that forms - it could be a number of different changes," she said. "Then, it's important to have a follow-up, to see what are the next steps for determining whether you have a problem."

She said both women and men should be screened for breast cancer if they suspect a problem, and mammograms are the standard imaging resource. The risk of breast cancer among women increases with age, and Edrman encouraged them to determine whether screenings annually or every other year are what's best.

Thanks to advances in treatment and earlier detection, about 95 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer live five years or more. Heredity is a risk factor, although Erdman said about 85 percent of women who are diagnosed don't have breast cancer in their family history. Either way, she said, it's important information.

"If you have a first-degree relative that has had breast cancer, whether it's a man or a woman," she said, "you should know that and share it with your health-care provider, as they are trying to help you determine how often you should be screened."

Having a first pregnancy after age 30, being obese after menopause, using birth-control pills and hormone therapy are among the risk factors for women. Risk factors for men include liver disease, estrogen treatment and testicular conditions.

Information about breast cancer in men from the American Cancer Society is online at cancer.org.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - KY