Give a brief description of the physical health issue of breast cancer
Give a brief description of the physical health issue of breast cancer
Physical health issues statistically differ between men and women demonstrating the morbidity and the mortality rates pertaining to specific diseases amongst the sexes. Other health issues such as violence, accidents, and homicides also play a role in physical health as well (Laureate, 2017i). Such health issues will be examined within this discussion. A brief description of the physical health issue of breast cancer was selected. A comparison was then made between men and women based upon the incidence, mortality rate, diagnosis, and prognosis of the health issue. The lifestyle and behavior differences which lead to and/or may prevent this health issue was also examined. The issues related to health care access, diagnosis, and treatment by health care professionals as well as the provision of strategies which may help to mitigate the risk of this health issue.
The second leading cause of death, cancer is a term used to describe a disease in which abnormal cells divide without control and capable of invading nearby tissues as reported by the National Cancer Institute or NCI (n.d.). The second most common cancer in women, breast cancer is the formulation of tumors resulting from rapidly growing cells within the breast. For women, mammograms can detect such cancers early and before they spread. The average risk of a woman developing breast cancer within the United States is 12% or a 1 in 8 chance (American Cancer Society, 2018). Male breast cancer is a rare subtype accounting for less than 1% of all breast cancer (NCI, n.d.). Commonalities exists in the risk factors for both men and women and include family history and the aging factor, the average presentation for women being 61 and men ages 60-70 although it can develop at any age (Shapiro, 2018). Incidences of male breast cancer can sometimes be caused by higher frequencies of inherited genetic mutations thus predisposing males to breast cancer and increasing the risk for the disease (Shapiro, 2018). Comparatively, the BRCA1 and BRCA2 are inherited mutated genes in females which react similarly producing tumor suppressing genes notably increasing the risk for breast cancer (NCI, n.d).
Comparatively: Incidences, Mortality Rate, Diagnosis, and Prognosis
The incidence of locally advanced breast cancer is more common amongst men thus accounting for more than 40% of male patients being presented with advanced stages upon their initial diagnoses (Wu, et al., 2017). Approximately 7-10.9% of male patients are presented with stage IV, higher than females at 4.9-5.6% (Wu, et al., 2017). Such a diagnosis will often involve a larger tumor size and accompanied by a higher risk of lymph node involvement. The lateness in diagnosis is likely a contributing factor to the absence of screening. Stage IV diagnosis for men is indicative of a higher mortality rate thus dropping the rate of survival to 20% (NCI, n.d.). Women also have the advantage of early detection which contributes to higher survival rates (NCI, n.d.). Prognosis for both men and woman are therefore dependent upon the stage of the cancer, the type of breast cancer, estrogen-receptor and progesterone-receptor levels found within the tumor tissue, and the patient’s age and general health (NCI, n.d).
Lifestyle and Behavior Differences
Avoiding risk factors and the increase of protective factors could assist in the prevention of breast cancer for both men and women. There are, however, factors such as aging, personal history of breast cancer, inherited risks, and dense breasts, and exposure of breast tissue to estrogen made in the body that are not avoidable (NCI, n.d.). While there exist biological differences between men and women, such as hormonal levels, such hormones may attribute to health differences and may possibly account for the higher occurrences of breast cancer in women, although health related behaviors, preventative and direct, remain influential to such differences as well (Helgeson, 2017).
Preventative health behaviors refer to behaviors conducive to the maintaining of health such as exercise, proper nutrition, and annual visits to the physician. Such notable protective and therefore preventative factors which may help to prevent breast cancer include risk reducing mastectomy and the increasing of exercise as recommended by NCI (n.d.). Conversely, direct health behaviors refer to behaviors less conducive to an individual’s health such as high risk activities and smoking. Thus, factors such as alcohol consumption, obesity, hormone therapy for symptoms of menopause (for women), and radiation therapy to breast or chest area can be avoided and considered a direct health behavior.
Related Health Care Issues
Presenting against the norm are gender differences related to physician bias as in the manner for which the health care system treats men and women; differences in socioeconomic status, education, and income as related to health outcome may also be contributors to differences (Helgeson, 2017). Studies indicate that the treatment between the sexes for breast cancer are unbiased, surgical treatment of men, for instance, is patterned after the treatment for women (Scott-Conner, et, al., 1999), the most common surgical treatment being the radical mastectomy. Social roles may also add contributing factors in health differences regarding health issues. Women, for instance, are likely to visit the physician more frequently than men (Skoog, et al., 2014) allowing their concern with health to engage in more health promoting activities (Helgeson, 2017). Ethnicity and socioeconomic status, however, plays an integral role in the quality of health care accessible to either men or women of color (Williams, 2003) creating a disparity in wellness and statistical outcomes for this disease.
Mitigating the Risk
Contributing to the morbidity and mortality differences between the sexes is health behavior (Helgeson, 2017). Risks such as obesity and the lack of exercise pose a greater threat to women’s health than to men’s health regarding breast cancer; taking preventive measures for controllable factors plays an integral role in overall health. Monitoring and maintaining a healthy weight is pinnacle as obesity increases the risk of breast cancer (American Cancer Society, 2018). This corresponds directly with regular exercise and limiting stationery time. Research has also indicated that women who drink 2 to 3 alcoholic beverages a day have a 20% higher risk of breast cancer as compared to those whom do not drink at all (American Cancer Society, 2018). Additionally, women tend to be more sensitive to symptoms than men and are more likely to respond with medical care (Helgeson, 2017). Creating an awareness of change is significant to the detection of illness. It would therefore benefit men’s health to monitor changes within their body particularly in the case of early signs of breast cancer.
American Cancer Society (2018). How common is breast cancer? Retrieved from
Helgeson, V. S. (2017). Psychology of gender (5th ed.). New York, NY: Taylor and Francis.
National Cancer Institute (n.d.). Breast cancer-patient version. Retrieved from
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