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Breast Cancer also targets men

breast cancer in manHélio de Carvalho knows all too well that breast cancer isn’t only a women’s illness.The Brazilian immigrant, 52, not only lived with the disease, but survived due to early detection.”I found it during a game with my ex-wife. I made her do self-exams and she told me I would have to do it too. That’s precisely when we noticed a lump on me. I thought it was nothing, but the doctor detected cancer,” Carvalho said.

It is a fact unknown to many. For every 100 cases of breast cancer diagnosed in women, there is one case detected in men. Physicians warn that in recent years the number of men with this problem is growing alarmingly. To diagnose this type of cancer, the patient’s breast has to be analyzed for hard lumps, growth and swelling of the glands. Often the symptoms confuse physicians due to its similarity to gynecomastia – male breast growth caused by the accumulated fat.

According to doctors, usually the tumor is found by the patient or his partner. Along with the appearance of lumps, it is common for patients to have complaints of nipple discharge, signs of local dissemination with the retraction of the nipple and ulcers.The treatment is similar to that of a woman – it depends on the stage of the disease and the health status of the individual. The earlier the treatment, the better the results.

First the biopsy takes place, then perhaps a mastectomy is performed, followed by radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Breast cancer is more prevalent in men over 35 years of age and the risk increases with age. The disease is related to the same risk factors in women such as: family history, the appearance of malignant tumors in the past, excess weight and high-fat diet.

The American Cancer Society estimates that this year 1,910 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed among men in the United States. About 440 men will die in 2009 due to this disease.

“The earlier it is diagnosed, the better the prognosis. Just like in women, the survival rates for early diagnosis is about 80 to 90 percent, whereas, if discovered later, this index falls dramatically, reaching only 10 to 20 percent,” according to Dr. Renato Santos, a surgeon/oncologist at the São Luiz Hospital and Maternity in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In turn, Carvalho believes his quality of life is better today than in the past.”You will ask why? Now I respect my limits more, the limits of my body, and I know that serious diseases do not only affect other people. A disease can knock on our door too,” he said.

Carvalho said that even among his friends there is a preconceived notion about this disease. “When I was asked what I had and I responded ‘breast cancer,’ I noticed that people did not believe me or for some reason thought I was the only case in the world. This ignorance is dangerous and is bad,” he said.

One of the people that has helped spread awareness of breast cancer among men is Peter Criss. The original drummer of the band Kiss was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 and escaped major complications due to early detection. “In ’08, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, but with (early detection) my great doctor Alex Swistel & staff and the Lord above, who always looks over me, I am cancer free today! I wanted to let you know men get it like women do. Don’t be afraid to let someone know if you have a lump. Do the right thing for you and your loved ones and get it checked. Man or woman, there is no discrimination with breast cancer … we all don’t have nine lives,” wrote Peter Criss on his official website.

Four years after the cancer diagnosis, Carvalho said he is slowly returning to his lifestyle. “I have no hurry, I take life as it is … Beautiful and difficult to face, but is the only real asset that we have. So, now I live and allow those close to me to live,” said the carpenter, who also had to readjust at work after the breast surgery.


Category: CANCER

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