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Breast Cancer Survivability for Men and Women

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While breast cancer is predominately a woman’s disease – men also get it. The 5 to 10 year survival rate after breast cancer diagnosis for both men and women is ~90% to 80%.

While serving in the active duty Air Force during the mid-80s, I was shocked and surprised when my good friend Walter at the ripe old age of 19 years old was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer and went through life changing surgery. The procedure at the time was very invasive… the cancer was found on both side of his chest. The surgery appeared to be a success – whereas all cancerous breast tumors had been removed… It appeared they had removed the cancer before it had a chance to metastasize (spread throughout the body).

I certainly had no ideal men were susceptible to breast cancer. Although rare, it does occur. To this date, I’ve wondered if he survived the ordeal by being cancer free – for life.

The following data should provide some relief in knowing breast cancer prognosis for both men and women is very survivable – when treated in a timely manner.

"The American Cancer Society estimates for breast cancer in men in the United States for 2020 are: About 2,620 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed and About 520 men will die from breast cancer " (American Cancer Society 2021).. 

if we’re going to compare cancer survivability apples to oranges… Unlike pancreatic cancer for instance, once diagnosed and under the best medical care for breast cancer treatment – there’s a 5 to 10 year survival rate after early detection (Cancer Mortality Rates, Wikipedia 2021). In the case of pancreatic cancer vs breast cancer prognosis… they are completely two different things. So don’t believe breast cancer is not survivable – early detection and treatment have saved many lives… with survivability averages above 5-10 years on average increasing.

Mugpie Breast Cancer Gifts for Women– Chemotherapy Gifts for Cancer Survivor Patient- Cancer Mug Gifts for Ovarian Breast Cancer Awareness Friends- Cute…

However, survivability prognosis with any type of cancer is greatly dependent on various lifestyle and biological factors, i.e., medical treatment, environmental stressors, hormones, compromised DNA, unhealthy behavior and sedentary habits, i.e., alcohol consumption, smoking, diet and drug abuse for example, overweight and diabetic medical condition, etc.

Men Like Women Should Take Action Immediately Once Signs and Symptoms of any Type of Cancer Appear Evident

Breast Cancer Prevention in America Should be Taken Seriously

The CDC (Centers for Disease and Control Prevention) 2017 statistics: Women 250,520 diagnosed with breast cancer and mortality rate at 42,000. “For every 100,000 women, 125 new Female Breast Cancer cases were reported and 20 women died of this cancer” (CDC 2021).

From 2013-2017, women diagnosed with breast cancer and death statistics

“From 2013-2017, in the United States1,222,059 new cases of Female Breast Cancer were reported among women, and 207,081 women died of this cancer. For every 100,000 women, 126 new Female Breast Cancer cases were reported and 20 women died of this cancer.

… “breast cancer remains the second–leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women. The average lifetime risk for breast cancer in women is approximately 13%. In 2020, the American Cancer Society estimates 13% of newly diagnosed female breast cancer patients will die” (Greenville Journal 2020).

1999-2017 Statistics Show a Downward Trend in Breast Cancer Rates, However this does not Tell the Whole Mortality Story.

“In some cases, even though the rate is going down, the number of new cases and deaths is going up. This happens because the size of our population is growing and aging each year.” It appears when examining the statistical data over the last 20 years, there’s a slight upward breast cancer rate diagnosis and death trend occurring from the disease being off-set by life extending treatments and surgery. “5-year relative survival for Female Breast Cancer in the United States is 89.1%” (CDC 2021).

Women with Increased Breast Cancer Risk

Those with Increased Risk of Breast Cancer: 1) As a woman ages. 2) When a woman begins menstruating (young females are not immune). 3) Pregnancies near, or after 30. 4) Hormone (estrogen) replacement treatment. 5) 50 year family tree window of breast, ovarian, or prostate cancer. 6) Alcohol consumption 7) Overweight 8) Ethnicity: Hispanic, Black, Asian and Pacific Islander women

Signs and Symptoms

1) Scaling, peeling, or flaking skin around the breasts with concentration around the nipples. 2) Changes in breast color or dimpling 3) Pulling in of the nipple 4) Mass or lump within the surrounding breast tissue that feels different. 5) Unexplained breast rash 6) Change in shape of breast. 7) Redness, or skin appears orange 8) Unexplained discharge of nipple.

A summary of treatments: A mammogram is the most common preventative nonintrusive test available to ensure breast health is not compromised and proactive treatment is taken immediately when necessary. Breasts are placed between two plates to be x-rayed, identifying tumors, etc.  Mammograms can detect tissue abnormalities that cannot be felt through self examination, but seen with x-rays. With early detection of breast abnormalities “it is more likely than not,” cancer won’t see the light of day.

If diagnosed with breast cancer, get a second opinion with procedural options. There are various treatments available: Chemotherapy (anti-cancer drugs); radiotherapy (high energy x-ray kill cancer cells); hormonal therapy (tumor reduction); biologic therapy (cancer agent spread blocker). If biopsy of breast tissue is necessary and tests review the breast(s) positive with malignancy, inquire about conservative Lumpectomy (tumor removal) opposed to mastectomy; part-full removal of breast(s).

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Ill- Health Breast Cancer Prevention
1.Self examine for lumps, or thickening under arm, or change difference, ridges, pitting, redness of breast.
2.Get Annual mammograms starting at age 40 (Women), if a family member has been diagnosed with breast cancer, or cancer runs in family, etc., both men and women should seek medical opinion much earlier.
3.It is highly recommended all women between the ages of 20-39 get breast exams every 3 years.
4.Men diagnosed with breast Cancer, “Symptoms and treatments are similar. Typical age when diagnosed, 60-70.
5. Ask about various breast cancer diagnoses: Mammogram, Ultrasound, exam frequency, etc.
6. Ask physician about genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 and early detection testing with family history.
7. If a family has breast, ovary, prostate cancer, family should seriously consider screening.
8. Reduce weight, reduce alcohol consumption, stop smoking and increase physical activity-exercise.

Author:  Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET. 2021 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: www.mirrorathlete.org  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.