Op-ed by Candice A. Lucas, Ed.D., MBA and Karen Reifenstein, Ph.D., RN –
What do Richard Roundtree and Matthew Knowles (aka Beyonce’s father) have in common? Other than being wealthy and famous African American celebrities, they were both diagnosed with breast cancer. Yes, breast cancer.
While breast cancer has been widely recognized as a female disease, men are not immune. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, there will be an estimated 2,670 new cases of male breast cancer in 2019 with approximately 500 deaths resulting. Although male breast cancer is most common in older men, it can occur at any age, and African American men are at increased risk for getting this disease. Additionally, men with an immediate, first-degree relative (parent, brother, sister, or child with breast cancer) are also at increased risk for this disease.
While male breast cancer is relatively rare —accounting for less than 1% of U.S. breast cancer cases—men should be aware of symptoms and the need to seek medical care early. Some symptoms of male breast cancer include a breast lump, nipple pain, nipple discharge (bloody or clear), a newly inverted nipple, sores on the nipple and areola (the small ring of color around the center of the nipple) and enlarged lymph nodes under the arm. Men are encouraged to see their health-care provider for any persistent breast change or other concerns related to their breast. In the rare case when breast cancer is present, early diagnosis can be life-saving.
While October is Beast Cancer Awareness month and November is Men’s Health Awareness month, we are sharing this information with you in December to let you know that your health should be a priority every month. Please pay attention to your health regularly, and get any symptoms checked out immediately. We care about you.
Candice A. Lucas, Ed.D., MBA is the Executive Director of St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center, Inc., Co-Chair of the African American Health Coalition convened by Common Ground Health, and co-Chair of the Racial Equity and Justice Initiative. Her expertise is in community-based programs aimed at improving the health and well-being of Monroe County residents including: promoting physical activity and nutrition as a means of chronic disease prevention; cancer prevention and early detection education to reduce the incidence of breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers.
BIO: Karen Reifenstein, Ph.D., RN is currently at the University of Rochester in the School of Nursing as an Assistant Professor of Clinical Nursing, School of Nursing Program Director for Dual Degree Nursing Students, Director for School of Nursing Education for Diversity and Inclusion, and Faculty Diversity Officer. Her research interest is breast cancer among African American women and health disparities among minority populations.