Breast cancer: Guys get it too.
That's the message of The Blue Wave, a group created to spread awareness about breast cancer in men, and the message that will be sent the week of Oct. 21-27 in Massachusetts after Gov. Deval Patrick signed a bill proclaiming the third week in October as Male Breast Cancer Awareness Week.
Last month, Patrick signed the bill, which says the week aims "to raise awareness of the occurrence of breast cancer in men and to encourage regular testing for breast cancer amongst all citizens of the Commonwealth."
According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure, one of the most well-known breast cancer awareness groups, breast cancer in men is rare but still happens: The overall ratio of female to male breast cancer in the U.S. is 100 to 1.1
"Although it sounds like a small number, 2,190 men are expected to be diagnosed, and 410 are expected to die from the disease in the U.S. in 2012," according to the Komen Foundation's website.
The Blue Wave's website says that because male breast cancer accounts for less than 1 percent of all breast cancers, "and the fact that breast cancer has been branded a woman's disease (with pink-only ribbons), men with the disease are often undiagnosed and their cancer is not detected until it has progressed to a later stage." The organization also says that 27 percent of men with breast cancer will die from the disease compared to 19 percent of women.
According to the Komen Foundation, common symptoms of male breast cancer include a lump in the chest area, skin dimpling or puckering, and nipple changes. Both the Komen Foundation and The Blue Wave's websites state that although when breast cancer is found at the same stage among men and women, the survival rates are similar.
"Because the male breast is much smaller than the female breast, it is more likely the disease will spread to the chest wall," according to the Komen Foundation.
Men are encouraged to give themselves breast exams or ask their doctor to perform one, and bring to their doctor's attention any changes in their breast area.