Best of DPSN: Get your tits out for breast cancer!

20130117123610-Male-ChestThis post is the third in our series of ‘Best of DPSN’ – it comes all the way from back in 2013 about the importance of people of all genders getting their chests checked out!

September is Breast Cancer Awareness month – or Pink Ribbon month.  A time when you may hear and see plenty of stories from women who have, or have had, breast cancer.

It’s also a time when famous New Zealand women and cancer survivors will bare all in the creation of the Pink Ribbon calendar.  Here is the 2013 Calendar:  http://www.whitcoulls.co.nz/pink-ribbon-calendar

Women, men and children will stand on the streets collecting money.  Where does the money go? It helps to save lives through breast health education; promote early detection through mammograms; support women with breast cancer through advice phone lines, Sweet Louise and YWCA Encore; and research for better treatment and greater survival. 

The Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition also makes submissions to Government, DHBs, PHARMAC and health organisations with the aim of improving access to, and quality of, treatment for women with breast cancer.

But what is usually missing from the picture?  Men can get breast cancer too!

Men may not exactly have breasts, but they do have breast tissue and they can develop breast cancer.  You can find out more about male breast cancer here: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancerinmen/detailedguide/breast-cancer-in-men-what-is-breast-cancer-in-men

What gets on my tits is that all the campaigning is around women, stories from female survivors and constant reminders for women to have mammograms and self-check.  Of course, this is all warranted but again I ask, what is missing? I want to see men stepping up and also being made aware that they need to check themselves – and not just down there bro (although that is also important!)

HALF TIME – What’s the score?
Women: 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime.
Men: 1 in 1,000 men have a lifetime risk of developing breast cancer.
(These statistics are from North America in 2011).

In New Zealand…around 2800 women and 20 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year.  Some men may be at a greater risk if a close relative, like a mother or sister, has had breast or ovarian cancer at a young age.  The overall survival rate for men with breast cancer is similar to women.  In NZ, the 5 year survival rate is 80-85%.  (Stats and info from NZ Breast Cancer Foundation).

So, the risks are low, but if you have a bloke in your life encourage them (or help them) to do a regular chest check.  They may thank you for it!

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