Think Pink (And Blue)!

Hey y’all! Today I am featuring a guest post from a good friend of mine, Rebecca, in honor of October being Breast Cancer Awareness month. Please read and spread the word! 🙂 Take it away Rebecca!

I’m writing the following because I was talking to Caron about breast cancer and she asked me to write about what we talked about for her blog.  Here’s my first attempt at blogging:

I have a confession to make.  While I love that there’s a month dedicated to Breast Cancer Awareness, I get frustrated when everything I see about breast cancer relates to how it affects women and women only. Breast cancer isn’t just a women’s disease!  While rare, men do and can get breast cancer.    Breast cancer affects the tissue of one’s breast and males have breast tissue too.  One of the reasons breast cancer is seen less in men is because the majority of breast cancers are estrogen receptor positive. The simplest way to explain this is that the cancer is “fed” by estrogen and men have less estrogen than women.   The reason this is so important to me is that this is personal.  My grandfather was a breast cancer survivor.  He was diagnosed in his later life and by the time he was diagnosed, the cancer had spread to many of his lymph nodes. His prognosis was not good, to say the least.  It is important to note that men generally have poorer prognosis than women because breast cancer is caught in its later stages in men.  Early detection is the key as it increases your chances of surviving this disease!
 Some of the risk factors for male breast cancer include: family history of breast cancer, age, gene mutations, alcoholism, and obesity.  My grandfather certainly wasn’t an alcoholic and probably could have been a little lighter, but the man enjoyed his chocolate.  However, the first 2 risk factors applied to my grandfather and we are unsure about the gene mutations.  My grandfather’s genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA 2 mutations were inclusive.  He had a mastectomy and lived for more than a decade after his diagnosis.Many of the warning signs and symptoms of breast cancer in men are similar to those found in women. Finding a lump or thickening of the skin around the breast is the most common symptom.   Other male breast cancer symptoms include skin dimpling, retraction or indentation of the nipple, changes in the nipple or breast skin, and nipple discharge.  My grandfather’s only symptom was indentation of the nipple.  He didn’t think much of it, but his “lady friend” insisted that he go to his doctor.  Early detection saves lives!  Breast cancer doesn’t have to be a death sentence.

If there’s just one message that I want you to get from this post, please let it be that if you notice any changes in your breasts that you won’t become another statistic and ignore your body’s warning signs.  If you notice something strange or worrisome and you don’t feel comfortable asking your doctor about it, it is time to change doctors.To find our more about breast cancer in males, here are a few websites that you may find helpful:

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/malebreastcancer.html
http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/FactsForMen.html
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/male-breast-cancer/DS00661
http://www.webmd.com/breast-cancer/guide/breast-cancer-men
http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_4_1X_What_is_male_breast_cancer_28.asp?rnav=cri

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