Male Breast Cancer Risk on the Rise Due to Obesity and Marijuana Use, Doctor Says

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In recent years, male breast cancer cases have been increasing, and doctors sound off the alarm bells since most men are unaware that this disease could also impact their health.

While breast cancer is often regarded as a woman's disease, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that one in 100 breast cancer diagnoses now involve male patients. By 2021, at least 2,700 new breast cancer cases will likely come from the male population.

According to Dr. Mohammed Memen, an oncologist at the Blessing Hospital in Illinois, factors like male obesity and increased use of marijuana might put men at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. He recommends that the men include breast cancer screening in their annual visit to their primary care doctor because early detection weighs a lot on their prognosis of beating this disease.

Memen said that if a man feels any lump around their chest, they should seek help from a doctor as soon as possible. He said that male breast cancer could be easier to treat once detected as men's breasts are "literally hormone receptor-positive."

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Hard Pea-Sized Lumps

New Yorker Sean Salo felt a lump on his chest, which was different from the usual swelling and abrasions. He described this lump as the size of a pea, which was also "hard and immovable." Following a mammogram and an ultrasound, his radiologist said he might have breast cancer. A biopsy confirmed that his condition was stage 2.

Salo, whose mother and aunt had breast cancer, had a bilateral mastectomy and was given estrogen blocker tamoxifen for his treatment. Since his cancer didn't spread to the lymph nodes, Salo did not need any chemotherapy, but his doctors advised additional cancer testing for his colon, stomach, and brain to watch out for early indicators.

Garry Davis, for his part, has his wife to thank as she was the one who felt the lump on his chest. A biopsy confirmed that his breast cancer had spread to his bones. He did six months of chemotherapy and took oral medications. Fortunately, his body is responding well to the treatment, and he did not experience much pain, unlike some friends who have other forms of cancer. The dad of two has since changed his diet and improved his workout habits to supplement his treatment.

Jim Keegan of New Jersey also had a hard pea-sized lump on his chest that bothered his wife, so they went to the doctor to have it checked. The doctor recommended a mammogram and a biopsy. Following a mastectomy and some treatments, Keegan, who was in shock and disbelief about his breast cancer in the beginning, has been in remission after eight years.

Risk Factors of Male Breast Cancer

Some male breast cancer risk factors include age, a family history of cancer, a genetic or estrogen-related condition, substance abuse (alcohol or drugs), obesity, and testicular conditions. Symptoms of male breast cancer are not limited to a lump as the chest could also have some redness, scales, nipple discharge, or dimpling of the skin. The size and the shape of the breast area might also change.

Like women, the men could also perform a self-exam to help them recognize and detect changes in their breasts. Facing the mirror with their fingers flat on the chest, they can firmly press on their skin in clockwise circles to feel any abnormalities or lumps. They could also squeeze the nipples to check for any discharge.

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