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Original Research: Men's Awareness and Knowledge of Male Breast Cancer

Thomas, Eileen PhD, RN

doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000389672.93605.2f
Feature Articles

Objective This article reports on the findings of a qualitative study that explored the awareness and knowledge of male breast cancer among English-speaking men. The primary goal was to elicit information to guide both clinical practice and the development of gender-specific educational interventions.

Methods Interviews with 28 adult men, all of whom had no history of breast cancer themselves but had at least one maternal blood relative with the disease, were conducted and analyzed, using qualitative methods, to describe participants' awareness of male breast cancer, their knowledge of the disease, and how they thought awareness of male breast cancer could be increased in health care providers and the lay public.

Results Nearly 80% of participants weren't aware that men can get breast cancer; and although all were at higher risk given their positive family history, all reported that their providers had never discussed the disease with them. A majority couldn't identify any symptoms other than a lump in the breast. About 43% voiced concerns that a diagnosis of breast cancer would cause them to question their masculinity. Participants also suggested ways that men, as well as providers and the lay public, could be better made aware of and educated about their risk for this disease.

Conclusion This study provides much-needed insight into men's awareness and knowledge of male breast cancer. While further research with larger samples is needed, these findings offer a starting point for the development of evidence-based, gender-specific, health promotion and disease prevention interventions for men.

Keywords male breast cancer; breast cancer, male; breast neoplasms, male; men's health; patient education; qualitative research

A qualitative study provides much-needed insight into men's awareness and knowledge of male breast cancer. Supplemental digital content is available in the text.

Eileen Thomas is an assistant professor at the College of Nursing, University of Colorado Denver, in Aurora, and serves on the advisory board of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program. Contact author: The author acknowledges Stephen Schoen, RN, who served as research assistant for this study and assisted with literature searches, participant recruitment, and data collection; and Phyllis Graham-Dickerson, PhD, RN, CNS, who assisted in reviewing and analyzing the data. The author of this article has no other significant ties, financial or otherwise, to any company that might have an interest in the publication of this educational activity.

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.