Pink Can Be A Boy’s Color Too: Why I’m A Male Who Just Had His First Mammogram

Radiology technician performing mammography scan

This isn’t a post about theology, Christian culture, or any of the other things I typically write about. Yes, this is a post about the 1%, but not that 1%.

This is a post about breast cancer and the fact that 1% of new cases each year occur in men. In a world where all things breast cancer related are pink, it’s easy to think of breast cancer as a disease that only impacts women– but that’s not reality. Pink can be a boy’s color too.

Sure, 1% isn’t exactly a statistic to be overly alarmed about, but if you’re among the population who are high-risk to fall into that 1%, listening to what I’m about to say could potentially save your life.

Guys: it would be wise of you to give yourself monthly breast exams, just as I hope the women in your life do too. Performing a routine breast exam is easy- there are plenty of charts online with detailed instructions. In fact, I’m going to throw one in this post so that you don’t even have to do the legwork to find it:

Men breast self examWhile I hope everyone will adopt monthly breast exams into their routine, who are the guys who really need to take this seriously? Men with a family history of breast cancer, previous radiation exposure, or who are known to have elevated levels of estrogen.

Were it not for a significant family history of breast cancer, I never would have realized I too needed to be performing routine breast exams. You see, on my maternal side I’ve lost my grandmother and two aunts to breast cancer, and have a third aunt currently living with it. To hit even closer to home, this past year my 32 year old brother found lumps in his breast and subsequently had a double mastectomy.

Which means even if you don’t heed my warning, I will be.Photo

In fact, today I had my first ever mammogram, ordered by my doctor after my last annual physical. I’m not currently worried or concerned about anything, but given a significant family history he felt in addition to monthly self exams and annual clinical breast exams, having a mammogram would be a wise part of early detection. Fingers crossed, nothing will come of it.

I have been vigilant about watching for signs of any lumps in myself because early detection is critical for all breast cancer. Once breast cancer is diagnosed in men it follows the same four stages as it does in women– meaning early detection is key to survival as 100% of men have at least a 5 year survival rate if it is caught at stage 1 or lower. This is exactly why today I had my man-breasts smashed in that evil mammogram machine (they’re not lying– it kinda hurts). If I am to fall into the long history of breast cancer in my family, I want to discover it early.

So guys– don’t think that you’re automatically the exception to the rule. You’re not. The good news is that if you take just a few minutes each month to perform a breast exam, you can take control of early detection.

 So stop what you’re doing. Go grab a shower, lather up, and check yourself.

Because pink can be a boy’s color too.

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