Chocolate And Breast CancerJosh Lee, Friday October 13th, 2006
Last week, while shopping, I happened upon a new product: Breast Cancer Awareness M&M's. These round pink sugar coated candies made me think. First I thought about making ginger bread women with them, as an ironic twist, but then a truly profound thought hit me: What about us? What about the men -- the VCR programming, couch moving, fuse fixing men? While small blue testicular cancer M&M's would probably not be too popular, don't we deserve some attention? October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and the sales clerk asked me if I would like to buy a pink ribbon to support breast cancer. That's fair enough, but were you ever asked to buy a ribbon for prostate cancer? Come to think of it, have you ever heard of Prostate Cancer Awareness month? I hadn't -- until I looked it up for this article. It turns out we missed it; it was last month. We didn't know because September hosts a plethora of Cancer Awareness: Ovarian Cancer, Childhood Cancer, and Gynecologic Cancer, while Breast Cancer enjoys it's own month, just making room for Halloween near the end. One out of six men will get prostate cancer. Who will sell candied gimmicks for them?
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Maybe the problem is that women are better at promoting. We men don't bake pink breast cancer cookies, and we're not the apt to sell ribbons at the supermarket. Maybe, and this theory seems more likely, society cares more about breasts. Everybody knows what a breast is: the gland on the female torso that serves to attract men and feed the young. Do you even know where your prostate resides, or what purpose it serves? I found out for you. It's a small gland below the bladder. Surrounding the urethra, it produces a fluid that is part of semen. Sounds important to me -- and get this -- we only have one. Women have a back up breast in case something happens to the other.
Once home, I asked my girlfriend if she knew why breast cancer had such support while prostate cancer is so obscure. She postulated that breast cancer could be more common in patients. An interesting theory which, if true, would justify the unbalanced attention. I went to my bat cave to investigate. For a very interesting plot twist, it turns out that "prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer", according to the The President of the United States of America! For more scientifically solid evidence, I turned to the American Cancer Society. Prostate cancer has been diagnosed in an estimated 234,460 males in 2006 while breast cancer has been diagnosed in only 212,920 females and 1,720 males. Despite these numbers, the American Cancer Society has written an entire report on breast cancer while prostate cancer got no more than a fleeting mention in the overall report. Misappropriated support became evident quickly in my research. My Google search for breast cancer returned 68,000,000 results, whereas prostate cancer yielded a meager 26,600,000 results. To be fair, breast cancer is lethal more often than prostate cancer. On the other hand, prostate cancer is not treatable by chemo therapy. The only options for sufferers is radiation or hormonal therapy*.
So while prostate cancer is more common, there is not nearly as much awareness or information of it out there. It is time to put an end to double standards such as this.
Women and Feminists, please do not take offense at this article. I could quote Shakespeare (“If we shadows have offended, think but this and all is mended, that you have but slumber'd here while these visions did appear") but I don't think you'll buy that, so here's my point: I have sympathy for cancer sufferers of all shapes, sizes, and sexes. I don't think there needs to be any less support for breast cancer, just more support for its male counterparts.
*Susan Clark, 2006. Do not take this as medical advice, or any sort of advice. We really don't know what we're talking about.