Breast Cancer. Men Get It Too…

MARC FUTTERWEIT, Counselor At Law, Dover, NJ
The Male Breast Cancer Coalition

How many of you know that men can get breast cancer? I also had no idea.
I work out, I play basketball every week, I play tennis, softball and attempt to play golf in the summer. I am in pretty good shape. Breast Cancer was the last thing on my mind.

One Sunday morning in August 2007 I had just got home from playing 2 hours of basketball and was getting ready to take a shower when my left hand brushed across my chest and I felt something wet. I looked in the mirror and saw a dark liquid coming out of my left nipple. I squeezed it and more came out. I called out to Jill, my wife and asked her to come look at this and she told me not to do what I normally do and wait.

The next day I went to work, called my doctor and found out he was out of town, so I went to Chilton Hospital on my way home. They did a culture and called me two days later and said it was a staph infection. But it was good staph and that I should take and antibiotic that they would prescribe and it should go away in 10 days. Guess what? It did not.

I then called my doctor and he did the same thing, took a culture and prescribed an antibiotic. But he also said that he wanted me to go have a mammogram. That is when I found out that men have breasts. I thought they were pecs. Guys go to the gym and work on their pecs not their breasts. So now I have breasts. I then made an appt with a friend of a friend who is the head of the radiology dept at St. Josephs’ hospital in Paterson.

Next thing you know I was having a mammogram. Boy was that fun, NOT!
Anyway the films are read and he tells me, get this, I have a clogged milk duct. You have got to be kidding me! Now, not only do I have Breasts, but I have milk ducts also and one of them is clogged. He then refers me to a surgeon by the name of Joseph Garcia, one of the nicest doctors I have ever met. I made an appt and went to see Dr. Garcia.

He reviewed the films and confirmed that one of my milk ducts was clogged. He said the plan was to make an incision under the nipple and remove the clogged duct. The procedure would be done in the hospital and I could go back to work in 2 days.

So we scheduled the surgery and I was operated on. The doctor wanted me to go back to his office the following Thursday for a followup, so thinking that is all that it was, I went by myself. I was called into an exam room and sat and waited. The doctor came in with my file and said the biopsy showed…. and I said biopsy ? He said yes we always do a biopsy and the biopsy showed a carcinoma.
Excuse me? With that he stood up, walked across the room, grabbed my face and said “You are going to be fine, do you hear me?” I said you are the doctor. I did believe him.

He said I had what was called a carcinoma in situ which meant that it was encapsulated and that it did not spread from anywhere or could spread to anywhere. He said that the procedure would be to remove the nipple and all the breast material and the layer of cells underneath and then he would close the incision. I did not need any radiation or chemotherapy treatments. I was very lucky.

I asked about a second opinion and he recommended that I do that. I went to Sloan Kettering in NYC and saw a doctor there who confirmed what Dr. Garcia told me. He said that either one of them could perform the operation. I chose Dr. Garcia.

The surgery was performed in January of 2008 and all went well. I was back to work in 3 days. My chest now looks like it is winking at you.

In the beginning, I had to go for checkups every 3 months, now it is every 6 months. I have a mammogram every year and in fact Jill and I schedule ours together and then go out to lunch. I was very lucky.

Over 1000 men are diagnosed with Breast cancer every year and many are not as lucky as me. Guys have to be aware of their bodies and if you suspect that something is wrong, in any part of your body, don’t wait for it to maybe go away. Tell your parents, grandparents, friends, whomever and go to your doctor for an examination. It may be nothing, but isn’t it better to know. Share this information with your fathers, uncles, brothers, grandfathers and any other male figures in your lives. The fight against this disease can be won. Education is the first step.