– Cancer Institute’s figures show
By Rehana Ahamad
Just as it’s common for women to have enlarged breasts, it is also common for people to assume that only women can be diagnosed with breast cancer. But the fact is that the male population does have to worry about being diagnosed with breast cancer, because it also affects men. More so, it affects Guyanese men. From the year 2006 to present, the Cancer Institute of Guyana has seen, and is currently treating four male breast cancer patients.
The institute’s Director of Outreach and Chief Oncologist, Dr. Sayan Chakraborty told Kaieteur News that these men have been prompt with their follow up visits and are currently recuperating well.
“Unless I’ve worked with them for over five years, I would not rule them as survivors, but they are doing very well as of now,” a pleased Dr. Chakraborty said.
He explained that the survival rate for men diagnosed with breast cancer is much higher than that of women.
“You see, because the female breast is enlarged, a lump is not easily detected. But, because men usually have flat chests, they find the lump much easier, so sometimes it is treated even before it becomes cancerous.”
Less than one percent of all breast cancers occur in men. They possess a small amount of nonfunctioning breast tissue, or more simply, breast tissue that cannot produce milk. Statistics show the survival rate of male breast cancer patients being 100 percent, once detected during stage one and two. The survival rate for stage three stands at 91 percent. Some 72 percent of the stage four patients survive, while 20 percent of the stage five victims also continue on, healthily. These odds tend to be much more against the female population.
This disease mostly affects men between the ages of 60 and 70.
According to online medical journals, men and women all have breast tissues. The hormones in females stimulate the breast tissue to grow into full breasts, while the lack of these in most men, results in their chests remaining flat.
However, there is a condition called Gynecomastia, which is the swelling of the breast tissue in boys or men. It is caused by an imbalance of the hormones- estrogen and testosterone. Dr. Chakraborty said that there are many young men who have this condition in Guyana, and while it is usually a benign tumour that is otherwise harmless, it does put men more at risk of developing breast cancer.
“Gynecomastia is usually found during puberty,” he said.
Dr. Chakraborty told this newspaper that even though male breast cancers occur in one out of 1000 men, it is important that those with Gynecomastia get a medical examination done, perhaps every year, to ensure that they don’t develop these cancerous lumps.
In many overseas cases, men resort to cosmetic surgeries that remove excess fat and glandular tissue to restore a flatter, firmer and more masculine contour to the chest.
THE RISK OF TRANSGENDERS
Research shows that transgender women who have taken hormones may be at increased risk for breast cancer. Excess testosterone in the body can be converted to estrogen. Excess estrogen increases the risk of breast cancer. Transgender men taking testosterone may also be at increased risk for breast cancer.
The symptoms of male breast cancer are similar to those experienced by females with breast cancer. These include a painless lump or thickening in the breast tissue, changes to the skin covering the breast, such as dimpling, puckering, redness or scaling and changes to the nipple, such as redness or scaling, or a nipple that begins to turn inward.
Dr. Chakraborty noted that mutations in specific genes are also associated with an increase in risk for breast cancer in men. “There is also the discharge of liquid from the nipple, many times in the form of blood.”
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation Incorporated, a male child of a man with breast cancer who inherits the defective gene has approximately six percent chance of eventually developing breast cancer. A female child of a man with breast cancer who inherits the defective gene has a risk between 40 percent and 80 percent of eventually developing breast cancer.
Men with a genetic predisposition to breast cancer are also at higher risk of getting prostate cancer at a younger age than usually diagnosed.
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