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Breast Cancer in Men:Time to blow the whistleon Namibia’s Silent Threat

Written by on June 19, 2024

Our society has been riddled by a pervasive and deep-seated misconception that breast cancer is an affliction that is predominantly meant for women alone.

Such a tragic misunderstanding has further been hammered home by the general advocacy work of cancer organisations whose message continues to be that women must regularly get screened for breast cancer and men for prostate cancer.

Here, the stereotype and gendered notion is reinforced by the fact that women are the biological carriers of breasts and men, testicles.

Men actually do have breasts and thus are prone to breast cancer.

They possess breast tissue, which, although less developed than in women, can still harbour malignant cells.

The most common type of breast cancer in men is ductal carcinoma, originating in the ducts that carry milk to the nipple.

It is crucial to note that while these ducts are non-functional in men, they are structurally present and can become sites of cancerous growth.

Furthermore, men can also develop lobular cancer, which begins in the breast’s lobules or glands.

These structures, though vestigial and non-functional, underscore the biological basis for the disease’s manifestation in men.

This realisation came to me a few days ago when in a conversation with one of our oncologists, I was informed that more and more of our men are getting diagnosed with breast cancer.

For a Namibia whose former president tragically succumbed to cancer and in which many men and women continue to be pushed into the shadow of death by this insidious ailment, the time to dispel the myths is now.

Men must get screened for breast cancer too.

The time is now that we arrive at the intersection of a continued effort at gendering cancer and shifting the narrative by deliberately emphasising that breast cancer screening is not exclusively a women’s health issue.

The susceptibility of men to breast cancer and our ignorance in realising the danger of this reality can only push us into the abyss of an increased loss of life.

The Reality of Male Breast Cancer

According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, as of 25 April 2024, an estimated 2 800 men will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in the United States (US) alone.

The foundation goes on to caution that an estimated 530 US men will die from breast cancer in 2024 as well.

While we look at these dire estimates, which of course are from another part of the global village, what we must be asking ourselves is how many men have we lost so far to breast cancer in Namibia and how many more will die?

The quicker we are able to arrive at answers, the better we will be able to extricate ourselves from having to be stuck in the proverbial limbo of those who are dying or about to die.

I call upon my country folks to awaken to the reality that the misconception that breast cancer is an exclusively female disease is leading us to delayed diagnosis and treatment in men.

Rossina Kalimba is a cancer advocate and founder of the Zuzu Holding Hands Cancer Foundation. She can be reached at

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