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Rare Disease Day: male breast cancer

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Although it’s rare, it’s possible for men to be diagnosed with breast cancer too. February 28th is Rare Disease Day, and an opportunity for us to bring awareness to male breast cancer, a disease that is often overlooked, and highlight resources for patients affected by this disease.

Rare should not mean invisible

Although male breast cancer cases make up less than 1% of all breast cancer diagnoses, more than 2,700 men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and nearly 530 men will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society. There’s a misconception that breast cancer only affects women. The harm in this thinking is that men will often overlook the symptoms of breast cancer, leading to later diagnoses and worse outcomes.

Because male breast cancer is so rare, it poses its own unique challenges. For instance, male patients are often excluded from partaking in clinical trials for breast cancer treatments, so they lack access to the newest medical innovations offered by studies. This also makes male breast cancer difficult for researchers to study because there are so few patients in this population and this specific research is often underfunded; however, research into male breast cancer is critical because the prognosis for men with breast cancer isn’t improving at the same rate for women with the disease.

Knowing the risk factors

While doctors are not entirely sure what causes male breast cancer, they have identified factors that increase a man’s risk of developing this cancer. For men, it’s important to be aware of these risk factors so that they can take the necessary precautions and screen effectively. According to the Mayo Clinic, these are some common factors associated with male breast cancer risk:

  • Older age or family history of breast cancer
  • Exposure to estrogen
  • Liver disease or obesity
  • Klinefelter’s syndrome
  • Testicle disease or surgery

Finding support

The Male Breast Cancer Global Alliance (MBCGA) is a non-profit organization that aims to improve outcomes for people affected by male breast cancer by promoting education, advocacy, and research. The organization is dedicated to raising awareness about male breast cancer and ensuring that men with breast cancer receive appropriate care and support.

The MBCGA also supports research efforts to better understand the causes and treatment of male breast cancer. By promoting collaboration among researchers, healthcare professionals, and patients, the organization aims to improve outcomes and advance progress towards a cure.

Male breast cancer survivors and patients can become ambassadors for the MBCGA to help with advocacy efforts and educate others around the world. Through this work, the organization is tackling the stigma and shame around male breast cancer and providing support for others facing this disease. To learn more about the work of the Male Breast Cancer Global Alliance, the resources it offers, or how to get involved, visit its website:

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