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Breast cancer hits men too

<br />“Many men don’t realize they can get breast cancer, so they ignorethe lump in their chest,” explains Dr. Sharon Giordano, a Professor ofMedicine at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. “Whenthey finally go to see the doctor, the tumour has spread.”

One day last year, Michael Johnston discovered a lump under his skin. He promptly went to the doctor, who told Johnson he had breast cancer.

“My wife and my daughter asked why I didn’t get testicular cancer like other men,” recalls Johnston, 55. “I said ‘would you rather have me without breasts or without balls?’”

Johnston is an unusual case: Women get breast cancer 100 times more often than men.

“Many men don’t realize they can get breast cancer, so they ignore the lump in their chest,” explains Dr. Sharon Giordano, a Professor of Medicine at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. “When they finally go to see the doctor, the tumour has spread.”

Six years ago, Giordano conducted the world’s largest study on male breast cancer.

Men with a family history of breast cancer run a higher risk of getting the disease as do men who’ve been exposed to radiation.

“Men have breast tissue similar to women’s”, explains Dr. Beth Overmoyer, Johnston’s physician at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. “Usually they can feel the tumour.”

It may be a lump under the nipple, a sore on the chest, or liquid leaking from the nipple.

If the tumor is diagnosed before it has spread, treatment methods used for women — radiation, mastectomy, chemotherapy, and hormone treatment — are very effective.

Now, a year after receiving his diagnosis, Michael Johnston has fully recovered.

“I’ve never looked at my disease and thought ‘Breast cancer, how embarrassing’,” he says. “But I can empathize with what women go through. I didn’t have to face the emotional burden of losing my breasts.”

 
 
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