BLACK MEN AND BREAST CANCER STORIES

USEFUL INFORMATION

BLACK MEN AND BREAST CANCER

In  a US study, male breast cancer cases were analysed between 2010 and 2016 with a finding that cancer was 52 per cent higher in black men compared to white men with the same diagnosis.

The reasons for this are largely unknown, but speculations revolve around GENETIC and NON-GENETIC risk factors such as gene mutations, biomarkers and radiation exposure – not to mention, socio-economic circumstances.

The number of male breast cancer cases are growing steadily across the world. It doesn’t help that breast cancer is stigmatised as a ‘woman’s disease’ causing men to delay seeking medical help for an illness that appears to undermine their masculinity.

The problem is, global experts forecast an increase in breast cancer cases from 2,300 cases in 2018 to 2,550 cases in 2028 for men. That’s an annual growth rate (AGR) of 1.10 per cent in American men. Two per cent of all breast cancers are represented by men.

 

BREAST CANCER IN BLACK MEN (NOT UNLIKE BLACK WOMEN), REMAINS A POORLY RESEARCHED AREA

Unquestionably, we have been a neglected area in terms of research and study when it comes to breast cancer.  That lack of focus from healthcare professionals as well as from men themselves, means men are invariably diagnosed late, with poor survival outcomes.

Effective public health strategies are needed to overcome fear, apathy and the social stigma attached to male breast cancer.

One study found that black men with breast cancer (18 to 64 years), were 76 PER CENT MORE LIKELY TO DIE from breast cancer than white men and nobody knows why.

 

SYMPTONS

  • A lump is the primary sign of breast cancer in Black men. If you’ve listened to the testimonies above, you’ll know that the nipple and adjacent breast tissue could also be affected.
  • This doesn’t mean that most lumps and swellings in men are a sign of cancer because they’re not. Still, for obvious reasons, DO NOT IGNORE IT. Watch the videos above if you want to be convinced.
  • Lumps are usually caused by something harmless or mild, such as enlarged male breast tissue (gynecomastia), a fatty lump (lipoma), or a fluid-filled bump (cyst).

 

SIGNS OF BREAST CANCER:

  • Breast swelling
  • Swollen lymph nodes under the armpit
  • Discharge (fluid / bloody) from the nipple
  • Breast tissue that hardens or changes color

 

COMMON CHARACTERISTICS:

  • It occurs in one breast
  • The tumor grows under, or around the nipple
  • It’s painless 
  • It’s a lump that doesn’t move (it’s immobile)
  • It doesn’t feel smooth but hard or rubbery
  • It grows

 

CAUSES AND RISK FACTORS

We practically know nothing about what is happening to black men and why they have breast cancer. However, are some of the speculative risks yet to be properly researched. These include:

 

  • Inherited genetic mutations (most notably BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. BRCA 2 is often associated to men)
  • Exposure to radiation can damage DNA in cells. Cancer-causing chemicals in our environment or diet may play a role for example, but none have been identified as outright causes of male breast cancer.
  • A family history of breast cancer: About 1 out of 5 men with breast cancer has a close relative, male or female, with the disease.
  • A personal history of cancer
  • Prior exposure to radiation i.e. radiation therapy for another condition, like Hodgkin’s lymphoma, are especially at high risk. 
  • Hormone imbalance:
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle – A lack of physical exercise.

 

EFFECT ON BLACK MEN

Black male breast cancer is described as rare but I think we need to stop seeing it in this way. Rare suggests it’s not something we ought worry about ‘for now’. The collective battle must be the same – to rid ourselves of breast cancer by creating the conditions that can at the very least reduce it. 

There’s some discussion about breast cancer being called ‘CHEST CANCER’ to avoid the ‘female stigma’. Although it won’t be fooling anybody, it might encourage men to get checked at an earlier stage if free of the fear of being ‘feminised’. If it saves lives why not, but that’s a discussion for you brothers. The key concern is that it’s becoming far too common among black men and women. 

Gaps in the US healthcare system, like the lack of health insurance and racial bias in health care (across the West), mean that timely access to health care is an elusive proposition for most Black men. You can see from the videos above that even outside of the US healthcare system, black men are challenged to get the support they need.

 

DIAGNOSIS

Like many women, black men have normally found their lump by accident and been persuaded to get it checked out.

It’s a broad thing to say but black men of African heritage, need to improve their conscious checking – SELF-EXAMINATION FOR LUMPS IS NECESSARY  because that is how you will save your own lives.

Your cancer doctor/ oncologist/provider may ask you to describe the size, location, and how your lump feels. Hard, painless lumps are more concerning. They may take tests other tests and ultimately advise you take a MAMMOGRAM, ultrasound, or MRI to help diagnose the lump. Confirmation of breast cancer is made by way of a BIOPSPY

THINK OF THE FOLLOWING:

  • When did you first notice the lump?
  • Is the lump in one breast or both breasts?
  • Can you feel the lump from different positions?
  • What does the lump feel like (hard, tender, firm)?
  • Have you noticed any areas of swelling near the breast or armpit?
  • Is the lump fixed in one place or does it move?
  • Have you experienced associated symptoms like breast pain, fever, or unexplained weight loss?
  • Do you have a personal or family history of cancer (especially anyone in the family who has been found to have either a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation)?

 

TREATMENT

First, a BIOPSY will be taken to confirm your diagnosis.

The two most common types are a FINE NEEDLE or LARGER CORE -needle biopsy, although some conditions may call for a SURGICAL biopsy.

Everything depends upon the size of the lump, the position of it exactly and as usual, access to resources.

Finding optimum treatments for breast cancer in Black men is challenging because so little is still known. While there is currently a loud call for randomised trials with black women, the percentage of black men diagnosed with breast cancer is so small, even scientific studies are said to be inappropriate at this stage.

As a non-medical expert, I’m not sure about that. I imagine there are enough incidences for some studies to take place now. The logic that we need more black men to die first, or that we need more black men to be diagnosed with breast cancer before researching their condition, is a little worrying.  

One that can be done now is to have a GENETIC TEST to see whether you have the mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 Gene

Depending on the type of breast cancer you have and how advanced it is, you may need additional treatments such as:

 

 

Discuss all of your treatment options—including your goals, medication side effects, and length of treatment—WITH YOUR DOCTOR to help make the decision that best fits your needs.

 

PROGNOSIS

Mortality rates in Black men are worse for late-stage breast cancers and breast cancer subtypes, like triple-negative that are resistant to treatment.

Like breast cancer in women, breast cancer in men can be

 

 

But we don’t know at what rates they exist for Black men.

YOUNGER BLACK MEN with early-stage breast cancer are at the greatest risk.

One study showed that there is a 76 per cent greater risk of death in young Black men than younger White men, despite receiving similar treatment.

When insurance and income differences were adjusted, the difference in mortality rates between the two narrowed significantly, suggesting that ACCESS TO CARE (racial disparities) plays a major role in black male breast cancer mortality rates.

 

COPING

If you get nothing else from this site today understand that EARLY DETECTION is the best chance to save your life so STOP PUTTING IT OFF AND GO AND SEE YOUR DOCTOR!

A diagnosis of breast cancer can shake your world leaving you feeling completely lost. Feelings of despair, embarrassment, anger, confusion, resentment, and shock are all natural responses.

TALK TO SOMEONE and if you’re not ready to do that, let the small videos above reassure you that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Maybe in time, you too will create a video to empower other Black men. It is about strengthening your support network, building your confidence, so that you know that you can and will cope.

 

BUT MY BROTHERS, I DON’T CARE HOW OLD YOU ARE, WHAT YOU DO, OR WHO YOU THINK  YOU ARE, YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO FACE BREAST CANCER, OR CHEST CANCER  ON YOUR OWN.

THE vision

TO CHANGE THE ENVIRONMENT AND CONDITIONS THAT CREATE BREAST CANCER

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