By LaKeshia N. Myers
In 1993, Richard Roundtree was diagnosed with breast cancer. The actor who had personified the role of “Shaft” in the 1970s, says he was shocked when he received the diagnosis.
“I heard the cancer part first — it was only later that I heard the breast part. I couldn’t believe it.” For years after his diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer, Roundtree kept quiet about his status as a cancer survivor.
According to ABC News, Roundtree chose to break his silence at a celebrity golf tournament to raise money for a mobile breast cancer diagnostic unit. “I just got up and told everybody that I was a breast cancer survivor. The room was totally silent,” he says, laughing. “I think it dawned on people that men can be affected by this, too.”
Breast cancer is most often found in women, but men can get breast cancer too. About 1 out of every 100 breast cancers diagnosed in the United States is found in a man (CDC, 2022). Several factors can increase a man’s chance of getting breast cancer. Having risk factors does not mean you will get breast cancer.
Getting older-The risk for breast cancer increases with age. Most breast cancers are found after age 50.
Genetic mutations-Inherited changes (mutations) in certain genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, increase breast cancer risk.
Family history of breast cancer-A man’s risk for breast cancer is higher if a close family member has had breast cancer.
Radiation therapy treatment–Men who had radiation therapy to the chest have a higher risk of getting breast cancer.
According to the CDC, if several members of your family have had breast or ovarian cancer, or one of your family members has a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, share this information with your doctor. Your doctor may refer you for genetic counseling. In men, mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes can increase the risk of breast cancer, high-grade prostate cancer, and pancreatic cancer. Male breast cancer comprises only one percent of all breast cancer cases — not a surprising figure, since men’s bodies contain only about one percent of the breast tissue found in women.
If you have a family history of breast cancer, please speak with your physician or contact Milwaukee Health Services at (414) 760-3900 to make an appointment for cancer screening. Screenings are available for both men and women.