Men Get Breast Cancer Too - how they noticed changes to their chest

We asked our men who are part of our Men Get Breast Cancer Too campaign how they discovered the symptoms that lead them to being diagnosed with breast cancer... this proved to be very interesting and informative so we thought we should share.

Read what they had to say...

Doug (Diagnosed with Stage 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.)
“I discovered what I thought was probably a cyst on the nipple of my left breast – but I didn’t go to see my GP until about six months later. I’d noticed that my nipple had now become inverted and my wife Sarah finally convinced me to make an appointment.
I was in total denial that I might have breast cancer – the thought wasn’t even in my mind. I didn’t even know that men could get breast cancer, until I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Invasive ductal Carcinoma, three days before my 50th birthday. I was in a huge state of shock.
My message to men would be firstly – check yourself! And if you find anything suspicious at all, get yourself off to the GP’s, but do it in good time. That’s so important”.


David (Diagnosed with Grade 2 invasive ductal carcinoma)
“Several years ago, after discovering lumps in both my breasts, I was diagnosed with a condition called gynaecomastia, which causes men’s breasts to grow larger than normal. I was relieved at the time that it wasn’t cancer.
Fast forward a few years and I noticed another change in my breast – this time my right nipple was inverted. I just thought it was another symptom of my gynaecomastia and wasn’t too concerned. I kept on putting off asking my doctor about my nipple, then finally did and she referred me to the hospital.
The consultant immediately told me that things weren’t looking good. He couldn’t be certain, but he was pretty sure that I had breast cancer. I already knew that men could get breast cancer, but you just never think it’s going to affect you!
It was a big shock to have the news confirmed a few weeks later”.

Vince (Diagnosed after finding a small lump near his left nipple)
“I first realised something was wrong just after getting up one morning, when I felt an itch on the left hand side of my chest. I discovered a small lump near my nipple, which I hadn’t noticed before. I didn’t know how long it had been there and it wasn’t really protruding.
My instinctive reaction was that it shouldn’t be there. But it didn’t cross my mind at this stage that it could be cancer – I had no idea that men could even get breast cancer.
I went to see my GP straight away and he referred me to the hospital for more tests. I had biopsies and an ultrasound - the chap who did the scan told me “there’s something there” and at that moment I really started to get concerned.
A week later, I was given the bad news that I did have breast cancer. Nothing prepares you for that – the reality of being told I had cancer was very upsetting. I was so worried about the effect it would have on my family”.

Mick  (Diagnosed with a grade 3 invasive ductal carcinoma)
“The first time I realised something was wrong, was after I’d worn a rough t-shirt at work. My right nipple was sore and I thought it was probably jogger’s nipple, which had been caused by the t-shirt rubbing.
A week later, my nipple had become more swollen and tender, so I had a bit of a feel and discovered a small lump, only about half the size of a pea. I decided to keep an eye on it – but in the end, a couple of weeks later, I decided to go make a doctor’s appointment to get it checked out. I’m so glad I did.
My GP referred me to the hospital for more tests. I did know that men could get breast cancer, but I’d never given it much thought before, because it was so rare. I had an ultrasound and a biopsy - the specialist told me that it wasn’t looking good. I received my results – I had a 2.8cm lump on my right nipple which was growing very quickly and was diagnosed with a grade 3 invasive ductal carcinoma. This was when everything really hit me and I just couldn’t stop thinking about it all the time – I had breast cancer”.

John (Diagnosed with primary breast cancer in both his right and left breast)
“I was at home watching a TV programme, when a feature about male breast cancer came on. Up until that point, I didn’t know that men could get breast cancer, but watching that feature prompted me to check my chest, later that same night, while I was in the bath. I was shocked to discover a small lump under my right nipple. 
I made and appointment with my GP a couple of days later. My doctor was convinced it was nothing to worry about, but referred me for further tests anyway.  At the hospital, things started to get much more serious. The consultant sent me for an ultrasound scan and a biopsy – they discovered a 7mm lump on my right nipple. I returned a week later for my results and was told that I had breast cancer.
When I was given the news, in a way I was quite positive, because I felt able to talk about my diagnosis. My attitude was that I was going to deal with it – this is my lot and I’ll make the most of it. 
Incredibly, nine years later I was diagnosed with breast cancer again, this time on the left side, at the last mammogram following my first breast cancer diagnosis”

Tony (Diagnosed after discovering small lump near left nipple)
“My wife and I were on holiday with friends and were bouncing around on dirt roads in the back of a LandRover. I felt some soreness around my left nipple, but thought it had been irritated by friction from the seat belt.
A couple of months later, I started to feel a lump under my nipple, about the size of a peanut. It gradually got bigger and I started to do some research. I’d been aware that men could get breast cancer, but knew it was very rare and thought it wouldn’t happen to me!
One day, my wife and I were sitting on the settee and she gave me a playful poke in the chest. By this time the lump had got even larger and she felt it - I noticed that my nipple had also become inverted. My wife insisted that I got myself checked.
It wasn’t until I went to the breast clinic at the hospital that I thought I might have breast cancer – something I detected from the doctor’s demeanour. When I went back to see the consultant for my test results and was told I did have breast cancer, it wasn’t a total shock, but still very upsetting.
In hindsight, I wish I’d gone to the doctor’s quicker. The more awareness we raise about male breast cancer, hopefully more men will be encouraged to go to their GP, as soon as they find something unusual. Early detection is so important.”

Andy (Stage four breast cancer, which had spread to lymph nodes)
“I’d been experiencing a stabbing pain in my left nipple for months but ignored it – it was my wife Michelle who forced me to go to the doctor.
The speed with which the GP referred me to the breast clinic at the Royal Berkshire Hospital was my first inkling that something was wrong. I was aware at the time that men could get breast cancer – I knew it existed, but I didn’t know what to check for. I had no lump which I could feel – so at the time, I ruled it out. I thought there always had to be a lump.
When I got my diagnosis - it’s like the cliché́ - you never expect it to be you.”

Amrik (Diagnosed with a 2.5 cm tumour, in the early stages of breast cancer)
“My girlfriend Shirelle had pointed out a lump on my chest, I was able to feel it myself, but I decided it was probably nothing to worry about.
Shirelle wasn’t happy to just forget about it. Undeterred, she wasted no time in booking a doctor’s appointment for me. Despite my objections to going, I eventually relented.
A short consultation and check-over later, the doctor had come to a similar conclusion as me. He told me he was 90% sure that there were no problems and that the lump would simply be a cyst, but sent me for a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy.
I was 100% not expecting the result I received one week later, I nearly fainted!”

Dave (15 mm tumour in left breast. Diagnosed with Grade 2, ER Positive, Her2 negative carcinoma)
“My wife Kalaya and I were in Thailand checking out hotels for our daughter’s wedding. I spent a lot of time driving around and found that the car seat belt was rubbing on my chest and making it sore. I found a small lump next to my left nipple and we assumed that it was probably a blocked cyst.
On my return to the UK, both my GP and the consultant at Poole General Hospital thought it was a cyst too, but arranged for me to have a minor operation to remove it. I was wheeled out of the theatre and the surgeon told me she had found a small tumour and had just sewn me back up again.
Surprised is an understatement. I didn’t have a clue that men could get breast cancer and it hadn’t even been mentioned to me at all as being a possibility before this point.
I had been treated for minor skin cancers for years, so I wasn’t frightened by the concept of having cancer – it was breast cancer that scrambled my mind, how could I have it?”

Bryan (Diagnosed with a grade 2, 3cm invasive ductal carcinoma in right breast, with malignant tissue in the lymph nodes)
“I noticed a lump in my right breast when I was showering. I wasn’t checking myself, I didn’t even know men were supposed to check their chest area. I wasn’t naive enough to think men couldn’t get breast cancer, but it wasn’t something you heard much about.
I made an appointment with my GP straight away, who checked the lump and the area around it, and referred me to the breast clinic. The consultant I saw had a prod around the lump area, told me it was fatty tissue and that there was nothing to worry about.
12-14 months later, I noticed the lump was getting bigger, the nipple became inverted, and I started to get discharge from it and it also became painful to touch.
I went back to my GP who quickly referred me back to the breast clinic. Within 10 minutes of my breast clinic appointment, I was going for a biopsy and a mammogram, and I was told it was likely to be breast cancer. It was.
It was very surreal and a bit of a whirlwind. I think my first reaction was relief at being told the cancer was treatable.”

Dave (Had a lump the size of a golf ball – diagnosed with hormone receptive breast cancer)
“I found a lump between my nipple and armpit, it wasn’t sore and it wasn’t hard, I just thought it was a boil. I didn’t tell anyone about the lump – not even my partner.
I wasn’t aware that men should check their breasts, but I was acutely aware that if your body changes, you shouldn’t leave it.
I went to see my GP, who checked the area and said it was quite common for men to get fatty deposits, but she referred me to a specialist. It was at this point that I told my partner about the lump.
When I saw the consultant he took a biopsy there and then, and it went straight to the lab as a matter of urgency.
I wasn’t shocked to hear I had cancer, but my first instinct was ‘how long have I got? Is it going to kill me?’ I defy anybody who receives a cancer diagnosis not to be a bit scared.”

Richard (Diagnosed with an 8mm ductal carcinoma)
“Initially, when I was getting irritation in the area around my nipple, I thought I had jogger’s nipple. Then, in the shower, I noticed a lump just below my left nipple - something to be more concerned about.
A week or so later at the doctors. I was told it was probably a cyst, and to come back in a couple of weeks if it was still there.
I waited five weeks before going back for a follow-up as I felt there was a lack of urgency. I was referred to the breast clinic for a biopsy.
I didn’t even know that men could get breast cancer, mainly because I’d just never had to think about it. When I was diagnosed, I must admit I thought “why me? what’s wrong with me?”

David (Diagnosed with breast cancer, which has spread to his lungs)
“I’m a vet and found a tiny lump smaller than a pea under my right nipple after I got crushed and bruised by a cow. I gave it a couple of weeks to go away – then went to the GP.
It took a second biopsy to make the diagnosis, which sent alarm bells ringing, plus during that time my nipple started to invert. So when I got to the surgeon’s office, I would have been surprised to be told it wasn’t breast cancer.
As a very practical person and as the diagnosis wasn’t a surprise, I had prepared for the news.
After maybe 20 seconds of silence and numbness, I just wanted to get on and sort it out. What are we going to do? When’s surgery? What about chemo? When will I return to work? Etc.!!”

Alan (Diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma Stage 3 cancer with lymph-gland involvement).
“Cancer? That diagnosis hadn’t even crossed my mind!
I was strong and healthy, I was a long distance runner and I am also a registered nurse and sport masseuse.
I knew men could get breast cancer - in fact, I had worked on a breast surgery ward and had run an oncology clinic.
After finding a lump beside my nipple, which I thought was probably a cyst, I made an appointment with my doctor. She examined me and said, “Well I don’t think it’s cancer as it’s smooth, but I’ll send you for a mammogram just to be safe.
I also had a biopsy taken from the lump and a sample from the lymph gland. This hadn’t been planned so I asked the technician “off the record” how it looked. He said “50/50,” but he lied.
I wasn’t surprised at the diagnosis, but disappointed that the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes.”

Mark (Diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer)
“I noticed one day that my left nipple didn’t look quite the same as my right nipple; it was slightly wonky in comparison. It looked as though the nipple was folded over, but it wasn’t really a bother; I was more concerned with a hernia I had at the time.
When I had a pre-op for my hernia I took my top off in front of the nurse who told me that I should get the nipple looked at. I went straight to the surgery and saw the next available doctor who wanted to refer me. Less than a week later I was having a mastectomy to remove my breast cancer.
It didn’t surprise me - it just made me more curious. After my wife’s own diagnosis with breast cancer, I’d done some reading on the subject so I knew men could be affected.”

Mark (Diagnosed after finding a 2 inch lump on his nipple)
“I was in bed, on holiday when I found a lump on my left nipple. At first I just thought I had knocked it, as I was working as a builder at the time so was used to getting bashed about a bit. The lump started changing shape so I spoke to my wife, Tina, and arranged an appointment with my doctor. He didn’t give me any indication that I could have breast cancer, but I was referred to the Breast Clinic straight away.
About a week later, I had a mammogram and a biopsy that same day at Cork University Hospital (CUH). The lump was rock hard and two inches in size, so the specialist I saw was alarmed.
I received my results the following week - I had breast cancer. I remember my consultant looking shocked, but we both wanted to get on with the treatment. I needed a mastectomy of the left breast, and the operation was booked in for a week later.
When I was given the diagnosis, I was taken aback, I didn’t know men could get breast cancer, nor did my wife.“

Giles (Diagnosed with cancer in his right breast)
“Because of my family history, I’d started checking my chest. My father was 77 when he died from breast cancer, he was from the generation of men who never really discussed medical issues. Until my father was diagnosed, I didn’t have any idea that men could get breast cancer.
I discovered a lump in my right breast, hidden right behind the nipple. I ignored it to start with, but eventually had it checked out by my doctor, having been encouraged by my wife, who’s a nurse.
Although I was expecting the worst, the news that I did have breast cancer was still an immense shock.”

Roy (Diagnosed with a 6cm tumour, which had spread to his lymph nodes)
“My wife caught me getting out of the shower one day. She is a nurse and noticed that my nipple was inverted. I hadn’t been conscious of it and it certainly didn’t hurt.
She sent me packing to the doctor’s and from there I was sent to the hospital for tests including a biopsy.
My inverted right nipple had been caused by a lump behind the nipple, which my surgeon told me had been growing for probably six months.
I didn’t know that men could get breast cancer and certainly didn’t check myself.
When I was diagnosed, I just turned to the consultant and said ‘if you need to take my breast off, give me radiotherapy, chemo – just do it. Just get rid of it!"

Mike (Diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer and is BRCA2 positive)
“I discovered two lumps in my breasts – one on each side, a small lump near my left nipple and a smaller swelling on my right breast, whilst I was in the shower. I hadn’t been checking myself, so it was completely by accident. After a couple of months my wife, both of us were GPs, prompted me to speak to my own doctor. I have Parkinson’s and we thought it might be a side effect of my medication.
My GP referred me to a consultant and I had a biopsy - a few days later, my consultant said he wanted to see me. He told me that I had breast cancer, I was very surprised, I hadn’t even contemplated that it might be breast cancer. I had been a GP for 27 years, but had never seen a case of breast cancer in men at my surgery, nor had my own GP. I felt the need to be strong to reassure those close to me, but also to remain positive about the outcome of my disease.
I’m one of five children and have an identical twin, Bill. After my diagnosis, I and all my siblings were tested for BRCA. Myself, my older brother and twin brother tested positive for BRCA2 as did one of my sisters. My other sister tested negative”.

A huge thank you to all our men that have joined the campaign and shared their story to help us raise awareness that Men Get Breast Cancer Too.

Download a 'Check your Chest' poster and help us spread the word that #MenGetBreastCancerToo! Find out more here.



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