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A Piece of My Mind
October 14, 2009

Oh, to Live in an Age When Men Had Breasts . . .

Author Affiliations

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2009;302(14):1511-1512. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1402

I talked with a man recently about my cancer. He had trouble finding words. He didn't know what to say and looked to the ground. The “breast” part of it all made him noticeably uncomfortable.

When I first felt pain, and later a lump, below my left nipple, it didn't sink in that I, a man, could actually have breast cancer. Years from now I may very well be able to count myself as a cancer survivor simply because the tumor in my breast caused pain. (Something very rare, in fact, for both men and women.) The pain, like a pin being driven into my nipple, drove me back to the doctor for a second, then a third time over a four-month period. My unwillingness to accept my physician's assurances that no further tests were warranted may have saved my life. As devastating as it was to be diagnosed with “invasive ductal carcinoma,” I was relieved to learn that my cancer was limited to the tumor in my left breast and two lymph nodes. Treatable and, with continued good care and some luck, survivable.

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