Male breast cancer is a rare disease. In the United States, fewer than 1% of all breast cancers occur in men. In 2022, about 2,710 American men are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer, and about 530 are expected to die from the disease. An average man’s risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer in his lifetime is about one in 1,000 (compared to one in eight for the average woman).
Doctors say that men should be familiar with how their chest muscles and breast tissue normally looks and feels so they can be aware of any changes. The earlier breast cancer is detected, the better the chances it can be successfully treated. The outcomes of men with breast cancer are about the same as those of women diagnosed at the same age and stage.
Since there are relatively few cases of breast cancer in men compared to women, there is less information and research focused specifically on male breast cancer. As a result, treatment decisions for male breast cancer are often based on studies of breast cancer in women. Fortunately, more clinical trials of breast cancer treatments are now including men.
If you are a man who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, it is worth finding out if you can enroll in a clinical trial of a treatment that might be beneficial for you. Some men who have had breast cancer say they felt especially shocked and isolated by their diagnosis because everyone views breast cancer as a women’s disease. Many say they had never met other men who had breast cancer. It is important to know that support is available through groups like the Male Breast Cancer Coalition.
The Male Breast Cancer Coalition, a nonprofit patient advocacy organization, can connect you with other men diagnosed with breast cancer for one-to-one peer support. The organization also has conferences, an email list, online message boards, and monthly virtual support group meetings. Contact the coalition for more information. https://malebreastcancercoalition.org