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Early diagnosis critical for male breast cancer patients too

Breast cancer can be a dangerous and deadly disease. An early diagnosis and starting treatment right away is often essential to beating the cancer. This is why it is important for men and women -- and doctors -- to take any signs of breast cancer very seriously.

When speaking of breast cancer and the importance of early diagnosis, many immediately think this is something that women need to be on the lookout for. And while this is true, it is something that men also need to be cognizant of.

While certainly more common among women, there are still about 2,240 men a year who are diagnosed with breast cancer. However, in many of these cases the men ignored cancer signs and therefore did not get diagnosed until later stages.

Due to the fact that male breast cancer is rare, when men notice things like a lump or discharge, they are quick to think that it must be something else and that it will go away on its own. For many, the idea of possibly even having breast cancer is simply not on their radars.

It is also something that doctors may not think of either. This is why many doctors fail to order biopsies. Again, this only gives the cancer more time to grow and spread and become more deadly. According to the American Cancer Society, there are about 400 men a year who die from breast cancer.

Just like with women, early detection and treatment is important. Treatment options include things like a mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation and tamoxifen. Breast cancer in males seems to be receptive to tamoxifen, as it inhibits the growth of estrogen.

When talking about breast cancer, exposure to estrogen is the No. 1 risk factor. Due to the fact that men naturally produce less estrogen than women, this is why breast cancer is not as common among men. Researchers are now wondering if those men who do end up with breast cancer have more estrogen than others.

Either way, regardless of the cause, it is important to keep in mind that a timely diagnosis can be the difference between life and death. And even though breast cancer is more prevalent among women, doctors still need to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms with men.


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