All year round, there are one hundred and fifty-six international days to celebrate people, talk about issues and raise awareness. Amongst these days are seven days that are specifically incorporated to celebrate women and talk about their issues. Only seven. Yet most Nigerian men complain that the world celebrates one gender more than the other. They say they are burdened by the number of gifts they have to buy every year to celebrate the women in their lives.
Recently, in a discussion, a group of men wanted to know why even Breast Cancer Awareness Month was about women too. They insisted that when breast cancer is talked about, it is often referred to as a “woman thing”. They wanted to know why the world is gradually pushing issues surrounding men’s health into a corner.
So this article is for them. This is for my Nigerian men who think a gender partiality is going on when it comes to health issues, especially breast cancer. I mean, if being the topic of discussion is the reason why most men should suffer from the disease, then I don’t know what the world is turning into.
The month of October every year in countries is marked as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It is marked to help increase attention and support for the awareness, early detection, and treatment of the disease known as breast cancer.
Currently, there is not sufficient knowledge on the causes of breast cancer, therefore, early detection of the disease remains the cornerstone of its control.
When breast cancer is detected early, and if adequate diagnosis and treatment are available, there is a good chance that it can be cured. If detected late, however, curative treatment is often no longer an option. In such cases, palliative care to relief the suffering of patients and their families is recommended.
Back to the issue at hand. All people, whether male or female, are born with some breast cells and tissue. Even though males do not develop milk-producing breasts, a man’s breast cells and tissue can still develop cancer. Even so, male breast cancer is very rare. Less than one percent of all breast cancer cases develop in men, and only one in a thousand men will ever be diagnosed with the disease.
Breast cancer in men is usually detected as a hard lump underneath the nipple and areola. Men carry a higher mortality than women do, primarily because awareness among men is less and they are less likely to assume a lump is breast cancer, which can cause a delay in seeking treatment.
Due to a lack of awareness on early detection and adequate health services, the majority of deaths occur in low income countries where most women with the disease are diagnosed in late stages – a situation that can be reverted if adequate public health programs are put in place.
Be that as it may, breast cancer is by far the most common cancer in women worldwide, both in developed and in developing countries like ours. In low income countries, the incidence has been rising up steadily in the last years due to an increase in life expectancy, increased urbanization and adoption of western lifestyles.
So, yes, the notion that the reason for days to talk about issues bordering on women’s health is for attention is a falsehood. For centuries women literally died in silence. But now more women have been given the opportunity to live and contribute to science, family, technology, world peace, etc. Thanks to world conversations and dialogues, solutions are finding their way into the lives of the ‘common woman’.
Please join in the conversation. Are you a breast cancer survivor, let’s help share your story.