Lifewatch: Men breast cancer

Reported by Claire Hosmann - email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

TAMPA, FL WECT - Breast cancer isn't just a woman's disease.  Men also have breast tissue that can undergo cancerous changes.

While women are about 100 times more likely to get breast cancer, it is possible for men to develop it as well.

The pages in Kriss Bowles scrapbook are filled with memories of her husband Brock.

"We would go and fly to different airports just to get a cup of coffee or a sandwich," said Bowles.

The 57-year-old pilot was like many men his age: he had an achy back, and didn't think much about a lump he found in his breast.

The doctors told Brock it was breast cancer.

"Wait a minute, men aren't supposed to get breast cancer," said Bowles.

"Sometimes males disregard the lump, disregard the discharge or disregard thinking it's something totally benign," said Theresa Winsey, who heads the UCH's Breast Care Center.

Men make up only 2% of breast cancer cases, and sometimes they can feel out of place.

"It's embarrassing for a man to come to a lady's imaging center and come into a mammogram room, and they have to overcome that," said Winsey.

By the time Brock's cancer was diagnosed, it had already spread to 33 lymph nodes.  The back pain he had was breast cancer in his spine.

"I would see him sleeping in the chair because he was in so much pain, and I would want to say something to him and all I could think of is you have to be laying there knowing you're dying, what are you thinking?" said Bowles.

Brock lost his battle with cancer in September 2004.  He was 59.

"Now my stepsons are very vigilant at checking to make sure if they find anything out of the ordinary because you know, Brock getting, their father getting it," said Bowles. "When I see that pink ribbon, that pink ribbon oughta have a blue stripe showing that men are also included."

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2008 almost 2,000 new cases of breast cancer in men will be diagnosed.

Out of those cases, approximately 480 will result in death.

If you feel any lumps or changes, report them to your doctor.