In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, cancer charities and organisations around the world will be wearing pink as the colour pink and a pink ribbon has become the international symbol for recognition of breast cancer, much in the same way the red ribbon is recognized for HIV/Aids. In this sea of pink, which is often regarded by society as a feminine colour, it can be easy to forget that men can get breast cancer, too.

Three years ago, the Breast Health Foundation said that South Africa has the highest male breast cancer numbers in the world.

Despite being the highest in the world, male breast cancer remains very rare as only 2 out of every 100 people diagnosed with breast cancer in South Africa are males.

A lump in the chest area is one of the most common ways to detect if there is a possibility of cancer. Though most lumps are not cancerous, it is important to go to a clinic or doctor to have the lump examined so that, if it is cancer, it may be detected early which will increase the chance of survival.

Among other symptoms for male breast cancer are an inverted nipple, dimpled or puckered skin on the nipple or areola, red scaly skin on nipple area or a fluid discharge from the nipple.

Men are also urged to examine their chest areas at least once a month to check for lumps in the chest area.

According to Pink Drive Initiative CEO, Noeleen Kotchin, one of the biggest reasons why men die from breast cancer is because it is detected at an advanced stage and by then, it’s too late to cure the disease.

If men are able to spot the symptoms early and know how to self-examine themselves, less men may die from cancer, Kotchin said.

Treatment options for cancer mainly include a mastectomy, which is a surgery to remove the affected cancer tissue. Chemotherapy, radiation, targeted therapy and hormonal therapy are other options to treating breast cancer in males.

If you suspect that you or anyone else you know has cancer, go to your nearest healthcare provider. Do not put it off – remember, early detection can save your life!