Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Not Just for Women

October is internationally recognised as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we at Padbury Pharmacy want to shine a light on a topic that’s crucial for everyone, irrespective of gender. While most discussions around breast cancer focus on women—and rightly so, given the higher prevalence—we cannot afford to overlook the fact that men, too, can and do get breast cancer.

Breast Cancer in Men: The Overlooked Reality

Breast cancer in men is rare but very real. According to statistics, about 1% of all breast cancer cases occur in men. Due to the lack of awareness, the diagnosis is often delayed, leading to more advanced stages of the disease by the time it is detected.

One of the primary reasons for this oversight is the widespread misconception that men do not have breast tissue. The truth is, both men and women have breast tissue, though men have lower amounts. This makes them susceptible to the same breast problems that women face, including breast cancer.

Recognising the Signs

For both men and women, self-awareness is key. “I felt a lump,” is a common phrase for those who have had a breast cancer diagnosis, but there are many other symptoms or warning signs to watch for:  

  • a new lump in your breast or underarm (armpit)  
  • thickening or swelling of part of your breast  
  • irritation or dimpling of your breast skin  
  • redness or flaky skin in your nipple area or your breast  
  • pulling in of your nipple or pain in your nipple area  
  • nipple discharge other than breast milk  
  • any change in the size or the shape of your breast  
  • pain in any area of your breast. 

Most breast changes are not likely to be breast cancer. However, if you find a change in your breast that’s unusual for you, see your doctor without delay for assessment.   

Breast Self-Exams: A Life-saving Routine

Everyone’s breasts look and feel different. Become familiar with the normal look and feel of your breasts. There’s no right or wrong way to check your breasts for any changes. Try to get used to looking at and feeling your breasts regularly. You can do this in the bath or shower, when you use body lotion or when you get dressed.

Remember to check all parts of your breast, your armpits and up to your collarbone.  When you check your breasts, try to be aware of any changes that are different for you.  

Breast self-exams (BSE) are an essential tool for early detection. By regularly examining your breast tissue, you become familiar with what's normal for you and can quickly recognise any changes.

For Women: The best time to do a BSE is a few days after your period ends when your breasts are less tender. Stand in front of a mirror with your hands on your hips and inspect your breasts for any visible changes. Raise your arms and look for any changes in contour or shape. Finally, feel your breasts while lying down, using your right hand to feel your left breast and vice versa.

For Men: While there isn’t a specific best time, making it a monthly routine is beneficial. In front of a mirror, inspect your chest area for any visible lumps or changes. Using the pads of your fingers, press down and move in small circular motions around your chest area, ensuring you cover all the tissue.

The Importance of Screening

If you notice any abnormalities during your self-exams or have a family history of breast cancer, speak to your healthcare provider. They may recommend further screenings like mammograms or ultrasounds, even for men.

Regular screenings are particularly essential for those with risk factors, such as family history, exposure to radiation, or inherited gene mutations like BRCA1 and BRCA2.

Wrapping Up

Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate based on gender. This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, let’s debunk myths, create awareness, and champion the importance of self-exams and screenings for everyone. Early detection can mean the difference between life and death. Let’s take charge of our health, together.

Stay informed and proactive. Your health matters to us at Padbury Pharmacy.