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Cancer doesn’t discriminate

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and attention turns to some 200,000 women who will be diagnosed this year and the countless women who are fighting the disease.

But what is often overlooked is that a small percentage of men are also affected by the disease. Part of the effort in awareness is that about 1,700 men will be diagnosed annually.

That small percentage of those affected (less than 1 percent) make it difficult to educate men about the precautions they need to take. Further, the disease is usually not recognized earlier, putting those who are affected at more risk.

“Breast cancer happens to men and it is very important (that breast screenings) are part of annual check-ups,” said Betsy Donahue, a spokeswoman for King’s Daughters Medical Center. “Three men (who) came through our imaging system this year were diagnosed with breast cancer.”

The disease affects men the same way it does women and the prognosis and treatments are the same. To make men aware of their vulnerability, the national Real Men Wear Pink campaign is under way.

“That is part of their bodies and they need to be checked just like anything else,” Donahue said.

While Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a time for everyone to be aware of the risks and precautionary measures needed to detect it, men should not consider themselves immune and should be cognizant that cancer does not discriminate.