Male breast cancer accounts for less than one per cent of all breast cancers in Australia. The rarity of male breast cancer can contribute to a lack of awareness, delays in diagnosis and treatment, and experiences of isolation and stigma. Men diagnosed with breast cancer can find it more difficult to access appropriate information, and emotional and social support. The use of the colour pink to represent breast cancer awareness can also be an issue for many men, who do not feel that the colour resonates with them.
This consultation project aimed to identify unmet needs and priorities for Australian men affected by breast cancer. The project did not aim to be a quantitatively representative study. Rather, it was undertaken to inform policy and program development within a consumer advocacy context, encouraging men to contribute as advocates.
Using an action research methodology, the project involved in-depth qualitative telephone interviews with five men from around Australia who had been diagnosed with early or metastatic breast cancer.
The project identified that men with breast cancer can benefit greatly from access to gender-specific online communities and face-to-face support groups. The option of making contact with other male survivors was seen as important. Participants recommended that awareness campaigns encourage male breast cancer awareness, including more training for health professionals to improve communication and early diagnosis. Lastly, participants highlighted the need for male-specific information resources to be readily available at time of diagnosis.