If you think only women are susceptible to breast cancer then think again. Tata Memorial Hospital in the city receives 40 new cases of men with breast cancer every year. However, lack of awareness among men regarding the form of cancer has become a hurdle in providing early treatment which leads to increased mortality rate.
Sunil Mehra, a 46-year-old businessman from Parel, was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. This came as a shock not only to him, but also for his family as they didn’t know before the diagnosis that men could also get breast cancer.
He has been undergoing chemotherapy at the hospital and might have to undergo a surgery to remove the breast glands in order to get rid of the cancer.
However, like in most of the cases of breast cancer among men, his cancer was also diagnosed late because of lack of awareness.
“Men are less likely to suspect breast cancer owing to their small breast tissue. This leads to spreading of the tumour underneath the tissue to the surrounding areas,” said surgical oncologist, Dr Vinay Doshi.
Normally, breast cancer among men is identified when a lump is discovered on his chest. Medical experts said that the effect of breast cancer in men is more dangerous than women as it progresses faster and infiltrates deeper into the chest wall. In fact, the diagnosis of breast cancer in men often becomes difficult.
Dr Namita Pandey, consultant oncologist said, “During primary diagnosis, it becomes tough for a general doctor to identity breast cancer in males. The formation of lump in the chest is often mistaken with gynecomastia that leads to enlargement of breast due to hormonal imbalance.”
Not only lack of knowledge, but stigma attached to it also deters men from approaching doctors with the symptoms of breast cancer.
“Owing to social stigma attached to breast cancer among men, often they don’t accept the diagnosis. They remain in the denial phase,” said Dr Meghal Sanghvi, breast cancer specialist, oncologist surgeon, Wockhardt Hospital.
“Breast cancer among men is as dangerous as in women. So, whenever, a man notices any sign of breast cancer, he should approach an oncologist at the earliest rather than staying in denial,” said Dr Sanghvi.