The UK’s first dedicated male breast cancer organisation has launched – here’s why it matters

Despite around 400 cases of male breast cancer being diagnosed every year, awareness is generally low.

Imy Brighty-Potts
Friday 13 October 2023 06:00 BST

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Lorraine regular Dr Amir Khan and This Morning’s Dr Zoe Williams have joined forces to support the launch of the UK’s first ever dedicated male breast cancer organisation.

Called Moobs, the organisation was founded by James Richards, 37, who is currently undergoing treatment for the disease after being diagnosed in February, aged 36.

Moobs’ main mission is to raise awareness of breast cancer amongst men, and provide a helpful resource for men who get diagnosed. The organisation also runs a monthly support group via Zoom, to ‘help reduce the isolation’ for men affected.

“As a male, I’ve always been aware of the risks of prostate and testicular cancer, but I had no idea men were able to get breast cancer – you just don’t hear of it,” said Richards.

“In the days following my diagnosis, I was surprised by the lack of tailored support and information readily available around the disease, and much of my treatment plan was based on what was offered to women.

“There are differences, but with so few cases and a lack of funding for male breast cancer, we are in danger of isolating those that need support the most.”

Around 55,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, making it the most common form of cancer in the UK.

There are also around 400 new diagnoses a year in men – yet awareness of the condition in males is much lower. It’s believed this is contributing to men being less likely to see their doctor when early signs arise, and a 2019 US study found male breast cancer patients have a 19% higher mortality rate than women.

As with women, male breast cancer tends to mostly affect older men, aged 60-70. However, it can potentially occur in younger men too, so being aware of the symptoms is important for everyone.

Checking for signs

When it comes to checking for warning signs, Dr Amir Khan said it’s “very similar” for both men and women.

“I always say to women, be ‘breast aware’ – so that’s knowing what’s normal for you, and then being aware of any changes and getting them checked, and it’s exactly the same for men,” Khan told the PA news agency.

“[Often] men don’t know that they’ve got breast tissue – but all men have breast tissue, and that means they’re at risk of getting breast cancer. It is a much lower risk than in women, but the risk is still there.

“So what I would say to men is, just as often as you check your balls for any lumps, you should be checking your breasts as well. Do them both – balls and breasts – in the shower, once a month.”

Khan explained that the “majority of the breast tissue in men is located around the nipple area -so that is the part you need to be hyper vigilant about” when checking for changes. “But saying that, you should be checking the whole of your chest area, right up to the collarbone and under your arm.

“As well as that, nipple changes are really important too – so if one nipple has suddenly changed, if it’s pointing inward instead of outward, or if there’s any skin dimpling, any new unexplained rashes around the breast area, or even unexplained persistent breast pain or chest pain, get that checked out.”

See your GP 

While these things don’t mean you definitely have cancer, it’s always best to get things checked with your GP quickly.

“We will be able to either reassure you, or make that onward referral. And it is incredibly rare – we’re talking 400 or so men each year diagnosed with breast cancer,” Khan added.

“But it’s always better to be safe than sorry, and the longer you leave it [if it is cancer], sadly, the worse the outcome is likely to be. So as soon as you pick anything up, go and see someone.”

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