October 15-21 is Male Breast Cancer Awareness Week, and more than 35 states in the U.S. have issued proclamations this year to spread the word.

It is estimated that among U.S. men, there will be 2,500 new cases and 460 men will die of breast cancer in 2017.

A man’s lifetime risk of getting breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000. So, it’s important that men “check their pecs” and be aware of the risk factors and warning signs: 

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Know the Risk Factors

Having one or more of these factors does not mean that a man will develop breast cancer; it just indicates an increased “risk” of developing the disease.

Aging (men over 65 are at greater risk) 

African-American 

Hormonal imbalance 

Exposure to radiation therapy 

Estrogen treatment 

Obesity 

A family history of breast cancer 

Genetic mutations (i.e. BRCA2) 

Klinefelter’s syndrome 

Alcoholism 

Chronic liver disease 

Testicular conditions 

Know the symptoms 

Any change in the breast or nipple can be a warning sign. These symptoms may also be signs of a benign (non-cancer) breast condition.

Lump, hard knot or thickening in the breast or underarm area  

Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast 

Change in the size or shape of the breast 

Dimpling or puckering of the skin  

Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple  

Pulling in of the nipple or other parts of the breast  

Nipple discharge  

New pain in one spot that doesn’t go away

Don’t ignore it! 

Survival rates for men are about the same as for women with the same stage of cancer at the time of diagnosis. But breast cancer is often undiagnosed in men until later stages due to a lack of awareness and because of fear, or worry, or embarrassment. Because of this later detection, the percentage of men who die of the disease is higher than that of women. 

Don’t ignore the warning signs—talk to your doctor immediately. 

Have your doctor do an annual clinical breast exam.   

For more information, contact Susan G. Komen North Jersey at 908-277-2904 or cure@komennorthjersey.org.