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What’s Different About Male Breast Cancer?

Men also develop breast cancer, with risk factors including genetic variants, obesity, and high estrogen levels.

When I met Carl “Mac” Holmes, it was in the midst of a conference for breast cancer patients. Lt. Colonel Holmes, a former Air Force pilot, stood out from most other attendees, because he is a man who lives with metastatic breast cancer. He looked sharp, with gray-brown eyes, white hair and a polo shirt tucked in.

“It’s not a man’s world,” he told me. Indeed, male breast tumors accounts for a tiny proportion of cases. The CDC reports that 2,000 U.S. men receive a diagnosis of breast cancer annually. The number of women diagnosed with invasive disease exceeds 240,000 each year.

“I’m a happy-go-lucky guy,” he said. But it can be awkward. “At the doctor’s office, for instance, they asked, ‘Are we seeing your wife?’”

After his breast cancer diagnosis, in 2012, Holmes initially hesitated before telling friends and acquaintances about the condition. He felt embarrassed, and called it “chest cancer.” Now he’s forthcoming, and eager to promote education about male breast cancer. “A lot of the guys I flew with never thought about it. But I knew, it could happen,” he said. “A man can get breast cancer. People need to know.”

Holmes lives with his wife, Robin, in Collierville, Tennessee. He first noticed his breast tumor while he was lifting weights, in March, 2012. The lump felt hard, and the nipple was turning inward.

“My doctor, a general practitioner in Memphis, knew right away,” Holmes said. He had a mammogram and biopsy, followed by a mastectomy. The breast cancer had spread to lymph nodes under his arm. An Oncotype test was done, and Holmes was advised to take six rounds of chemotherapy. “There’s heart disease in my family. I chose not to have radiation, to spare my heart,” he said.

Read Full Article: What’s Different About Male Breast Cancer?

Read Full Article: What’s Different About Male Breast Cancer?

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