In our last post, I preempted our regular programming to share a highly-sensitive but critical message with you. So, for the next few minutes, I invite you to stick with me as we conclude our post on ... KEEPING ABREAST OF CANCER (MALE EDITION)
I'M A MAN, SO HOW DO I CHECK FOR BREAST CANCER ON MYSELF?
Actually, you do the same as a woman would do: you check manually. If you feel a small "lump" (it doesn't have to be the size of a baseball, either! It can be as small as a grain of buckshot) under the areola (the pinkish "ring" around your nipple), and if it seems to be anchored in other tissues, you need to see a doc -- pronto!
Now, somebody's gonna ask, "WHICH doctor?". Well, no, you don't want "witchdoctors" for this; you'll want to go straight to your hospital's cancer screening center and schedule a mammogram to have it checked out (sometimes, your family doctor can have this scheduled for you).
OKAY ... WHAT'S NEXT, THEN? Well, if you're thin, the mammogram might be a little hard to do because the male breast is so close to the chest muscles. So, if you can't have a mammogram and to be sure it's not a malignancy (cancer) or metastasized (spread to other organs of the body), an ultrasound or a needle biopsy would have to be done ... or both! (yes, the biopsies do require a needle stuck into that hard "lump" I told you about, but, c'mon, guys, you're strong, remember?? You can take it ...)
If the biopsies show a malignancy, the surgery that's most often used is a mastectomy. Now, whilst it means a woman has a breast partially or totally removed, men normally have a modified radical unless the chest wall's involved. In that case, the removal of your pectoralis muscles may be called for.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THERAPIES I'LL HAVE TO TAKE ... THAT IS, IF I GET ALL THIS DONE AND IT IS MALIGNANT?
Well, the best way to answer this is to go to the WebMD® for response. So here it is, word-for-word, courtesy their site:
Radiation Therapy. Treatment with radioactive rays or particles is standard after surgery. It's used to help kill off any cancer cells that were missed. In some cases, radiation may be the main treatment.
Chemotherapy. This is treatment with drugs -- either taken by mouth or by injection -- that attack cancer cells. Chemotherapy is often used after surgery to lower the risk of the cancer coming back. For men with advanced cancer or cancer that has spread to other parts of the body (metastatic cancer), chemotherapy may be the primary treatment.
Hormonal Therapy. Some kinds of breast cancer need certain hormones to grow. Hormonal therapy blocks the effects of these hormones, choking the cancer. Hormonal therapy is often more successful in men than in women. That's because more men -- about 75% -- have hormone receptor-positive cancer. Your doctor might use tamoxifen or other drugs. The effects of the new aromatase inhibitors like Arimidex and Femara -- as well as the drug Aromasin, known as an aromatase inactivator -- haven't been studied much in men. Sometimes, removal of the testes is used to reduce the amount of certain male hormones in the system. Men with breast cancer should never take testosterone.
Hormonal therapy is often used after surgery to lower the risk of the cancer coming back. For men with locally advanced or metastatic cancer, it may be the primary treatment.
Biological Therapy. This is a new approach. Some men have an excess of a protein that makes cancer spread quickly. Herceptin is a drug that's been approved to treat metastatic breast cancer. It stops this protein from making the cancer cells grow. It may also boost your immune system, giving it more strength to fight the cancer itself.
WHAT IF IT'S NOTHING? MY FRIENDS WILL THINK I'M NUTS! I actually had this question asked after the last post was done (a friend had read it and emailed me). Sounds to me as if someone's afraid of losing his good standing in "Machos Anonymous"!
Look ... no matter how strong and robust you think you are, you're definitely "squirrelly" if you don't have it done! I mean, we're talkin' about your life here, dude! Better know that it's "nothing" ahead of time than to find out it's "something", but too late, right??
In other words, when it comes to life and death possibilities, shelve the ego, okay?? If you wanna hang with your friends, be armchair quarterback when your favourite teams play, spend quality time with your grandkids, love your lady for a good, long time -- in other words, if you don't wanna take a chance on dying -- schedule that checkup and follow-through with it, okay?
Maybe you won't get breast cancer, but remember: A true man will follow it through, because he knows what he's got to live for! So, if you've feel anything out-of-the-ordinary around your breast, get it taken care of ASAP!!
Okay ... we're heading back to rockin' territory with tomorrow's edition, but I hoped this helped someone out there.
Stay tuned ...***FOR MORE ON THE SUBJECT OF MALE BREAST CANCER, CLICK ON:***
The CANCER.GOV website
The MEDICINE.NET website
The WEBMD.COM website (treatment options)