October is Breast Cancer month – a month doctors urge women to schedule mammograms and get their breasts checked.
But breast cancer awareness campaigns are missing a vital part of the population: Men!
Why do men get breast cancer?
When it comes to breast cancer, the disease doesn’t discriminate.
As with women, genetic factors that put women at high risk also apply to men. “If the mother is a BRCA gene carrier, there’s a 50% chance the son can carry that gene, too,” says prevention.com.
That’s why it’s so important men find out if their mothers, aunts, grandmothers, etc. have a history of illnesses like breast, ovarian or pancreatic cancer.
If you have a family history of the disease, it’s even more vital you perform regular self-examinations than usual.
How to do a male breast self-exam (MBSE)
Like for women, the best place to perform a self-exam of your breast tissue is in the shower at the same time every month.
To do a MBSE, check the texture of your breast area by rubbing it in small circles with your fingers – look for anything that feels different from last month.
Then, check your nipple. Here you’re looking for any discharge, puckering or retraction (pulling inward), says Pam Stephan. It’s important to pay close attention to your nipple area. After all, explains medicine.net, “the most common sign of breast cancer in men is a firm, nonpainful mass located just below the nipple.”
Finally, hop out of the shower and stand in front of a mirror. Look for things like asymmetry and skin changes (rash, puckers, and dimples).
If you spot an irregularity, don’t ignore it. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to get tested.