Most Americans can correctly identify a single loop of pink ribbon on any given product as a breast cancer awareness ribbon. The pink ribbon and the adoption of pink generally have become visual symbols of breast cancer awareness and support on behalf of a major charity, marketers and even major sports franchises. The pink campaign has done wonders for female breast cancer awareness. Unfortunately, the feminine pink symbol has done little for awareness of male breast cancer.
Partially due to lack of public education, the rates for misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis and failure to diagnose cancer of the male breasts are tragically high. The public does not generally think of men as having breasts that can be affected by cancer. However, muscle and fatty tissue on the male chest can indeed be targeted by cancer growths.
Women in America are diagnosed with approximately 232,000 cases of breast cancer each year. In contrast, American men experience just under 2,300 cases. There are good reasons why the bulk of breast cancer awareness campaigns should be targeted at women. But enough men suffer from this potentially deadly condition that physicians and the public alike should be paying much closer attention to this issue.
First, it is critical that men get suspicious lumps checked out. If their doctors dismiss them, a second opinion is in order. Second, physicians must take any evidence of potential breast cancer in men seriously. Failure to do so could lead to legitimate medical malpractice claims. By working together to increase both awareness and intervention, physicians and the public can help to decrease high rates of delayed diagnosis related to male breast cancer.