General Surgeon at the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital in Westmoreland, Dr Lincoln Cox, is urging men to check for breast cancer symptoms.
He said that while the disease is rare in males, representing about one per cent of all cancer cases, it is important for men to remain aware and to report to their general practitioner any lumps on the breast or chest.
Breast cancer in men usually presents itself as a lump in the chest, dimpling of the skin or changes in the nipple.
“We urge all males and females with a lump to come in early, once you feel the lump, because that’s the time to treat the lump – the first time you recognise it,” Cox said.
He was addressing the MistyBlue Cancer Care Foundation’s teleconference on Wednesday (October 14) in observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.
He informed that men with a familial history of breast cancer are at an increased risk of developing the disease.
“In Jamaica, the leading cause of cancer-related death in men is prostate cancer, and if we look at the genetic syndromes, some of those syndromes are causing increased risk of prostate cancer within men and an increased risk of breast cancer. Once you have men in a family with breast cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, they are also of increased risk,” he pointed out.
Cox said it is important to note that in men, when a lump presents in the breast, if cancerous, the disease could already be at an advanced stage due to less dense breast tissue.
“If you have a lady with a breast lump of one centimetre it may be at a very early stage as opposed to a man, who can have a breast lump of one centimetre and it is at an advanced stage because there is little breast tissue. It doesn’t take much increase in growth for it to attach to the anterior chest walls and get beyond the pectoralis major.
Therefore, it is very important that men check themselves,” he pointed out.
Cox noted that, like women, men diagnosed with breast cancer at an early stage have a good chance of survival.
He said that treatment of the disease typically involves surgery to remove the breast tissue.
Meanwhile, male breast cancer survivor, Archibald Peterkin, who shared his story at the teleconference, said he never thought men could get the disease until he was diagnosed 12 years ago.
“My experience with the breast cancer was first of all frightening because I didn’t know men could have breast cancer. When the doctor told me it was breast cancer I remember I sat in his office and said, ‘my God can cure all diseases’,” he said.
He is urging men to take their health seriously and “listen to what the doctors say and follow their instructions”.