22 December 2015

Almost three-quarters of men (73%) do not check their breasts regularly for the signs and symptoms of breast cancer1, yet the same number are also aware that they can get the disease, according to new YouGov figures released today by Breast Cancer Care.

Although breast cancer in men is very rare, it does happen, so the charity is calling for men to get to know how their chest looks and feels as part of their regular health checks.

In a survey of 1,022 men – three quarters (73%) knew they could get breast cancer as well as women, and 83% recognised a lump as a potential breast cancer symptom.

Yet more still needs to be done, as three-quarters (73%) admitted they don’t check regularly for signs and symptoms. Of these, the majority (85%) said their main reason for not checking is because they are male.

Samia al Qadhi, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Care, says:

“It’s great that so many men are aware they can develop the disease. For most men, breast cancer will never be a worry.

“But for the 330 males diagnosed each year in the UK2, the disease can have a brutal effect.  We want to make sure they are checking for signs and symptoms as they would for well-known male cancers, such as prostate or testicular cancer. And then act quickly if they spot any unusual changes.

“Early diagnosis of breast cancer can be crucial in providing the most effective treatment and, ultimately, saving lives.”  

Male breast cancer symptoms can include a number of other changes - not just a lump - but the majority of the men surveyed were not aware of these:

Three quarters (73%) didn’t know a nipple becoming inverted could be a symptom3
Two thirds (65%) didn’t identify nipple discharge as a potential symptom
More than half (53%) didn’t know to look out for a change in texture of the skin around the breast

Dave Abbett, of Redditch, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 aged 56. He says:

“I didn’t check my chest for changes. In fact, I went to see the doctor about something entirely different - a rash I had all over my body - and it was then that she became concerned about my nipple, which was inverted. I saw a consultant within two weeks and was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I had seen a TV programme about breast cancer in men a few weeks earlier so I knew the disease existed, but I hadn’t taken notice of the signs and symptoms, so it was a complete and utter shock. As a man you just don’t think about that sort of thing.

“I’ve spoken to many people over the last ten years who didn’t believe that men could get breast cancer. Now I just really encourage other men to put a few minutes aside to make sure they know what their chest is like normally, and not to be embarrassed if they notice anything.”

Breast Cancer Care is urging all men to check themselves regularly for signs and symptoms of breast cancer, and report any worries to their GP. For care, support and information from day one, visit breastcancercare.org.uk to download the Men with Breast Cancer information pack, or call Breast Cancer Care’s Nurses free on 0808 800 6000.



For further information, please contact:

Laura Bradder, PR Officer, Breast Cancer Care

020 3105 3360 (out of hours 07702 901 334)



Notes to editors

Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number, for exact figures please contact Laura Bradder.

Figures from a YouGov Plc survey for Breast Cancer Care, unless otherwise stated. Fieldwork was undertaken between 20-21 August 2015 online. Total sample size 2,126 UK adults, of which 1,022 were men. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

1) There is no right or wrong way to check your breasts. Checking should be convenient and comfortable for every individual. ‘Checking regularly’ means checking often enough to know your body and what’s normal for you.

2) Cumulative total of ONS data on invasive breast cancer cases by age and gender in each UK country in 2013. Only invasive breast cancer (doesn’t include DCIS).

3) This is a net that stated they either did not know or thought this was not a symptom.


About Breast Cancer Care

When you have breast cancer, everything changes. Time becomes measured in appointments. The next scan. The next results. The next challenge.

At Breast Cancer Care, we understand the emotions, challenges and decisions you face every day. So, from the day you notice something’s not right to the day you begin to move forward, we’ll be here to help you through.

Whether you want to speak to our nurses, download our specialist information or connect with volunteers who have faced what you are facing now, we can help you feel more in control.

For care, support and information from day one, call our nurses free on 0808 800 6000 or visit breastcancercare.org.uk