October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and although it's very likely that a female in your life has been affected by this disease, I’d like to call your attention to a lesser-discussed disease: male breast cancer.

Maybe the term male breast cancer seems like an oxymoron, but it’s real. Men can get breast cancer. Luckily for us guys, it is pretty rare, but that makes it all the more difficult for the men who do suffer from it. It’s bad enough that they have a life-threatening disease, but add to that the stigma of having what’s considered a “woman’s issue” and insult is added to injury, literally. 

The word “breast” obviously is the reason for the stigma, and the reason why many men have difficulty admitting to anyone that they have the disease. This often results in them not getting the support they need to deal with this serious issue. And because most men would never imagine that they could get breast cancer, they wait far too long to seek the medical attention they need when the first signal arises that something is wrong. 

While many are doing their part to raise women’s awareness of this deadly disease during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’ve decided to lead the charge to deliver the message to men. My goals are to spread the message that breast cancer isn’t just a women’s issue and encourage more of us to be proactive in checking ourselves for telltale lumps. In addition, I’d like to destroy the stigma surrounding men’s breast cancer, so that those suffering from it will feel free to speak openly about their condition. Only when we open up the discussion about male breast cancer can men afflicted by it find support from others who have shared the condition.  

The fact is that all men have some breast tissue, and even though it may be minimal relative to a woman’s, cancer can still take root in it. 

Male breast cancer accounts for about 1% of all breast cancers. It’s estimated that there are approximately 2,000 new cases of male breast cancer each year, and that 400 of those men will die from it. That’s a 20% mortality rate. Although this pales in comparison with the 40,000 women who succumb to breast cancer each year, the numbers could be even lower, if only men weren’t embarrassed to talk about their disease. 

If a man is diagnosed with breast cancer at an early stage he has a very good chance for recovery. Still, many men delay seeing their doctors if they notice unusual signs or symptoms, such as a breast lump. They either don’t realize that they can get breast cancer, or are embarrassed to admit it. For this reason, many male breast cancer cases are diagnosed when the disease is in an advanced stage.

See a doctor immediately if you notice any of the following:

• A painless lump or thickening in the chest

• Changes to the skin on your chest (i.e. dimpling, puckering, redness, scaling)

• Changes to your nipple, such as redness, scaling or turning inward

• Discharge from your nipple

Besides checking yourself for any signs or symptoms, I encourage you to talk about male breast cancer with your friends. Spread the word that it exists. You never know whose life you may save with a little bit of information.

Also be sure to donate, if you can, to the National Breast Cancer Foundation (www.nationalbreastcancer.org) and the Male Breast Cancer Foundation in Memory of Mr. John W. Nick (www.malebreastcancer.org)

Another great way to donate to the cure is to become a member of my website www.jimstoppani.com

For the entire month of October, I will donate $5 to the Male Breast Cancer Foundation for every new membership I receive. Simply click on the link below to join my FREE newsletter, and I will email you a special link that you can use if you decide to join my site. This special link will automatically take $5 from your membership fee and donate it to the Male Breast Cancer Foundation.