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Survivor through early detection.

This is in reference to "Surviving Breast Cancer" by Carolyn Hughes, M.D., published in the Jan./Feb. and Mar./Apr. 2002 issues.

I am an 84-year-old male breast cancer survivor. I credit my fortune to early detection, breast cancer knowledge from a male victim, and recognizing breast cancer symptoms.

Twenty-five years ago, a male friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer. He noticed an odd appearance of his breast nipple and reported to his doctor for examination. The doctor regarded it as nothing serious. My friend was not satisfied. I suggested he go for a second opinion and referred him to my doctor. A mammogram and biopsy detected cancer. I do not remember the time lapse between doctor visits. I know he underwent chemotherapy treatment. The cancer had metastasized, and his survival was cut short.

In mid-September 2001, I felt a lump in my right breast and an itching sensation of the nipple. The next day, specks of blood appeared on my undershirt at the nipple site. A few days later, the nipple showed signs of inversion--a sign, I had read, of breast cancer in women. I was due for a physical in two weeks. In spite of my concern, I waited for my appointment.

When the doctor felt the lump, he remarked, "That's got to come out" and sent me for a mammogram the next day. The mammogram showed a mass in the right breast. I was referred to a general surgeon, who performed a biopsy. It is difficult to express my shock when the surgeon called to say I had breast cancer. The surgeon made an appointment for my family members and myself to discuss my options. Surgery was decided.

Prior to surgery, a bone scan was performed, followed by a dye test procedure to stain the lymph nodes for testing by a pathologist. My cancer was ruled "stage one."

When the wound healed, I was referred to an oncologist for consultation. The oncologist discussed my cancer in easy-to-understand terms, informing me that about one percent of males develop breast cancer. Chemotherapy and radiation were not recommended; instead, I was prescribed tamoxifen, which I am still taking with no noticeable side effects. The oncologist wrote a letter to my primary-care physician, with copies to five other doctors and to me. The letter read, in part, "Recently he was found to have a lump with inversion of his right nipple. This was found to be a moderately invasive ductile carcinoma, 1.5 cm., involving the nipple. He underwent mastectomy. Sentinel nodes were negative for any involvement of cancer. Estrogen receptors were positive. Progesterone receptors were positive, [B.sub.2] was negative. He comes back for reevaluation."

I am a breast cancer survivor due to early detection and treatment. My message to men: If you notice a lump in your breast or other symptoms as described herein, see your doctor. As I can attest, you are not immune to breast cancer.
James E. Mabry, Jr.
Arlington, Virginia
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Author:Mabry, James E., Jr.
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Jul 1, 2002
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