THURSDAY, Sept. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly 80 percent of men at higher risk for breast cancer aren't aware that males can develop the disease, a new study finds, and none of the men surveyed said their doctors had talked to them about breast cancer.

In the study, published in the October issue of the American Journal of Nursing, the researchers surveyed 28 men who were at higher risk for male breast cancer because they had at least one blood relative with the disease on their mother's side. Seventy-nine percent of the men didn't know that men could develop breast cancer, and 43 percent said having the disease might cause them to question their masculinity, the survey found.

"This study provides a first step toward an improved understanding about men's perceptions and knowledge of male breast cancer," study author Eileen Thomas, an assistant professor at the College of Nursing at the University of Colorado Denver, said in a news release from the journal's publisher.

"Male breast cancer is uncommon and so has largely been ignored by the media, general population and health care community," Maureen Shawn Kennedy, editorial director and interim editor-in-chief of the journal, said in the news release. "Still, nurses in all settings need to raise awareness about male breast cancer among men as well as women, especially those men at high risk for the disease."

According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, breast cancer in men accounts for less than 1 percent of breast cancer cases, and tends to strike men aged 60 to 70.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has details on male breast cancer.