Men are at risk from breast cancer, too, patient warns

Local News

BRIGHTON, Colo. (KDVR) — October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and that includes a group of patients that do not always get a lot of attention: men.

Men make up about 1% of new breast cancer diagnoses, according to the American Cancer Society. However, the risk of developing breast cancer is still 1 in 833 for males.

“A lot of people just don’t believe in it and don’t take it seriously,” David Dudak told FOX31.

Dudak said he first felt a lump in his left breast around 2015. According to Dudak, his primary care doctor referred him to a specialist to check it out.

“She did a mammogram. She said, ‘It’s not cancerous, I don’t want to bother with it,’” he said.

In January 2017, he said the lump became painful and he noticed other physical changes.

“We noticed that the nipple had inverted, and that’s a really bad sign,” Dudak said.

He was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer.

“I was shocked. Just shocked,” Dudak said.

‘You don’t think of men and breast cancer’

“It was very, very difficult because you don’t think of men and breast cancer,” David’s wife Clara Dudak said.

David went through 10 difficult months of treatment including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. He had to pack his hands and feet in ice and paint his fingernails and toenails with black nail polish to help ward off neuropathy during treatment.

The Dudaks say that while the care David received was top quality, they have always felt like outsiders in the breast cancer community.

“[Clara] was always with me, so everybody figured she was the patient and I was just along, but it was the other way, of course,” David said.

He has been breast cancer-free since November 2017 but says there is still a certain level of embarrassment associated with being a man diagnosed with a disease historically associated with women.

“All of the diagrams, everything, every resource is focused on women,” Clara said.

Groups like the Male Breast Cancer Coalition are now trying to bring more equality to the disease, help educate men about the risks and break down the stigma that it only affects women.

“When I talk to other men, one of the things I will always ask them is, ‘When did you have your last breast exam?’ And you know what the answer is. ‘What? Never!’ Nobody’s ever had a breast exam,” David said.

David says it is a simple step men can take that will save lives.

“The survival rate is not as good for men. But it’s not so much that the disease is different. It’s that it’s not caught early,” he said.

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