Yes, Men Can Get Breast Cancer!
This BRCA2 positive patient has had a mastectomy and prostatectomy. Yes, you read that correctly. Meet Robert, a male HBOC carrier and breast cancer survivor!
In 2006 I noticed a lump under my left breast that hurt when touched. I didn’t think too much of it because I didn’t know that men could develop breast cancer, but I am committed to keeping healthy for my boys and mentioned it to my healthcare professional during a regular exam. After being referred for a mammogram, sonogram and needle biopsy, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
While undergoing treatment, my surgeon suggested I take a genetic test to help identify the cause of my cancer. I learned my results – positive for BRCA2 – within a few weeks. I didn’t completely understand what the results meant, but I did feel relief in knowing why I had developed breast cancer and that the cause was not environmental. I also learned that being BRCA-positive meant I was at increased risk for breast, pancreatic and prostate cancers as well as melanoma. I told my sisters, who were both tested with negative results for the BRCA mutation.
In October 2006 I underwent a radical mastectomy during which surgeons removed a 2.5 cm mass and found cancer in 5 of 25 lymph nodes they removed, a stage III cancer. I was treated with chemotherapy and seven weeks of radiation following surgery.
I got highly motivated to raise awareness for male breast cancer, becoming involved with the John W. Nick Foundation, the oldest male breast cancer foundation, and participating in media opportunities.
About two years later, I went for my annual exam, and my healthcare professional noticed my PSA levels, or levels of protein produced by the prostate gland, while well within a “normal” range, had jumped from 0.9 the previous year to a 2.4 level. On high alert because of my BRCA results, my healthcare professional referred me for biopsy, and I ultimately was diagnosed with prostate cancer. In 2009 I underwent prostatectomy, but we removed the cancer early enough that I didn’t need any chemotherapy or radiation.
Knowing I was BRCA-positive saved my life. Because of the Myriad Genetics test results, my healthcare professional and I were both on high alert for potential signs of cancer. Knowledge is power. If there is a history of ovarian cancer, breast cancer in your family, don’t be afraid. Get the test.