When men develop breast cancer they are slower to seek help – and the most at risk

Recent figures indicate that around 1.7 million people will develop breast cancer each year, which means roughly 17,000 men could be affected annually. (Shutterstock)
Updated 22 October 2017

When men develop breast cancer they are slower to seek help – and the most at risk

DUBAI: Recent figures indicate that around 1.7 million people will develop breast cancer each year, which means roughly 17,000 men could be affected annually – enough to fill 19.5 Boeing A380 aircraft. However, those men face a higher mortality rate than women, because a lack of awareness often leads to a delay in seeking treatment.

Why? Because it is much harder to detect something when you are not looking for it – or you do not even consider it to be a possibility. The symptoms are revealed the same way, usually detected as a hard lump underneath the nipple and areola, but men are more likely to develop ‘significantly’ larger tumors due to the latecomer effect, and that is according to the largest gender-focused study on breast cancer ever conducted.

Men at risk
Breast cancer expert, Dr. Jon Greif, released his research in 2012, which compared the medical records of over 13,000 men who developed breast cancer, with those of more than 1.4 million women with the same plight Greif and his team found that the five-year survival rate for women overall was 83 percent, compared to 74 percent for men.

The study, presented at the American Society of Breast Surgeons (ASBrS) annual meeting, notes that the average male diagnosis occurred at 63, while women were 59, and that male breast cancer is “nearly always found as a lump,” while many instances in females are detected before a lump is felt, through screening.

“Regular mammographic screening might even benefit certain high risk men, although no research or controlled trials have been conducted on male screening as there have been for women,” said Greif. “Men at risk include those with certain genetic predispositions, a history of breast cancer in the family, significant exposure to radiation in the chest area and a history of breast cancer,” he added.

A first-hand account
“I noticed a change in appearance of the areola on my left breast and didn’t really think about it too much,” recalls one survivor. “My wife also had breast cancer and had a lumpectomy and radiation… So I am aware of what is involved with breast cancer and also was aware of male breast cancer, but I didn’t think it was what was going with me.”

The anonymous male was 56 when he happened to be visiting his doctor for a diabetes check-up, but was taken by surprise when his physician recommended a mammogram, which was scheduled immediately at a local women’s center. Within days a core biopsy (tissue test) confirmed the cancer was present, and the mastectomy removed all the breast tissue including the nipple.

“Male breast cancer is rare,” he added. “The one breast cancer specialist I saw said that I am the fourth case in six years that she has been a specialist in a large hospital. You should just be aware that it exists and to check yourself or have someone check you if you have any questions.” It turned out his specialist found cancer in several of the lymph nodes that they checked, which led to more surgery, chemo and radiation.

Where to turn?
If you discover a lump or experience any other worrying symptoms – such as discharge from the nipple – then you should see your physician immediately. But prevention is better than having to deal with a cure, and that is even more poignant considering the intensity of chemotherapy and other treatments.

For men and women alike, examining your pectoral area for lumps or other possible symptoms is incredibly simple. This useful guide from the UAE-based Pink Caravan organization breaks down a few simple steps, and recommends moving your hands in a consistent motion over your chest tissue, making it easier to detect any changes.

The test is particularly important for anyone who may be more at risk; men with previous breast pathology, men with gynecomastia, those with a history of testicular pathology, and anyone who has history of breast cancer within the family. What is also important is understanding that, despite its rarity and female associations, breast cancer does pose a risk to men – and it is up to all of us to encourage anyone with symptoms to seek medical help immediately.

Creating a real brew-haha: The trendsetting Jeddah coffee shop

Brew92°: A perfect place to hang out for the day. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj )
Updated 19 July 2018

Creating a real brew-haha: The trendsetting Jeddah coffee shop

  • Brew92° has been generating a lot of buzz since its soft opening in July 2016
  • The team at the cafe sources beans from some of the best growers and suppliers in the world, then roasts them in their own private roastery

JEDDAH: Coffee aficionados in Jeddah have probably heard the name Brew92° whispered in reverent tones as a suggestion for the perfect place to hang out for the day, or just to pop into for a quick caffeine fix.

The specialty cafe has also introduced Saudi Arabia to the world of coffee bean auctions. In June 2018 it paid $105 for a pound of Gori Gesha beans at the annual Gesha Village Coffee Estate auction in Ethiopia, the highest price ever paid for African beans.

Brew92° has been generating a lot of buzz since its soft opening in July 2016, attracting coffee drinkers of all ages to try its consistent and powerful blends. The team at the cafe sources beans from some of the best growers and suppliers in the world, then roasts them in their own private roastery. 

Arab News was given a special behind-the-scenes glimpse of the process to see how the beans are prepared and processed to make the perfect cup of coffee. All of the roasts they create are tasted blind, for example, without the tasters knowing the origin of the beans, to avoid any bias in their opinions on the taste and quality. “There’s no absolute, there are only guidelines,” is the motto the team behind Brew92° live by.

The idea for the place came from co-founder Abdul Aziz Al-Musbahi, who often frequented a coffee shop when he spent a few years in London studying and decided he would like to open a branch in Saudi Arabia. The owner declined to do so but instead offered to teach him all he knew about coffee beans and roasting.

Later, Al-Musbahi met business partner Hussain Ibrahim and suggested opening a roastery. Instead of immediately finding premises and starting work, Al-Musbahi set about finding and recruiting the best talents, before starting to develop the brand. He built and invested in a solid, capable team, the members of which trained with coffee consultants.

“I’ve been in this field since 2005,” said Ibrahim. “What I learned in the two years with Brew92° beats what I learned in the 10 years before it and the 10 years ahead.”

The name of the place, he added, was decided during a trip he and Al-Musbahi took to Dubai.

“The perfect water temperature for brewing is between 90 and 96 degrees Celsius; 92 is kind of in the middle — and it is the year in which Abdul Aziz was born.”

The team’s creative mastermind, Mohamed Bamahriz, has a theory about why the cafe is proving so popular.

“It’s because we’re addressing our customer’s five senses,” he said. 

Bamahriz noted: “We have our customized music playlist based on the time of the day and what sort of ambiance the customer is looking for whenever they come here, be it early in the morning or with slumped shoulders after working hours.”

“We also tailored our decor to be visually friendly and cozy,” he said and added: “Our visitors not only enjoy the coffee, they get to smell it and be completely submerged within the experience.”

“A month from now, we will also be introducing fashionable merchandise, which is something they can touch. We want to create a brand but we don’t want it to be niche and exclusive. Just like (our intention for) specialty coffee when we first introduced it, we want it to be for everyone; we want to create a sense of community and we want to prove that we can all coexist.”

He said that something he loves about Brew92° is that he can look around and see a man wearing a thobe sitting next to another in shorts and a third in a suit, while girls in niqabs sit side by side with others wearing the hijab and those who not — and it does not matter at all because everyone is equal.

The cafe also aims to be a trendsetter, rather than just following them.

“We’ve created quite a bit of hype with our salted caramel drink,” said marketing director Nidal Taha. It is called Halawa Bagara in Arabic, named after the popular caramel fudge that has a special place in the childhood memories of millennials. “We invented it by mixing coffee with it — after all, we’re not a juice shop,” added Taha.

“Many cafes are now trying to recreate it,” said Ibrahim. “Suppliers are bringing caramel sauces from all over the place. Our aim is to make it a signature drink everywhere, just like the Spanish introduced the Spanish latte — we want our drinks to reach the rest of the world.”