Men too, can have breast cancer
Updated: Thursday, October 17 2013, 07:11 PM EDT
Rochester, N.Y. - Like many men, if you would have told Harvey Singer he was at risk for breast cancer, he would have laughed at the notion.
Even when his sister warned him of their family's high risk and that he could be a candidate.
“Like most guys, I shunned and said there's no way I'm getting breast cancer, I'm a guy,” Singer said.
But Singer started to feel pain and noticed some changes around one of his nipples.
“I got this shooting pain that went through my left chest and into my shoulder and at that point I knew something was up,” Singer said.
After three months he couldn't ignore the symptoms anymore.
Singer diagnosed with breast cancer, ironically in October 2008.
Singer said he felt fear, but also shame.
“There's an anxiety and embarrassment about it, a stigma associated with being a male with a woman's disease,” Singer said.
“It's of course very upsetting, not only for my brother but what it meant for our sons,” Singer’s sister Vicki Wolf said. “It just makes our five boys at an even higher risk.”
Wolf is a three time cancer survivor, their mom had breast cancer.
Wolf had genetic testing and found she had the BRCA2 gene.
“It's a gene mutation that increases the risk for development of a number of cancers, including breast cancer,” said Breast Oncologist Dr. Michelle Shayne with the Wilmot Cancer Center.
Dr. Shayne said men can have the BRCA gene and pass it on to their children.
That’s something Singer's young nephews are aware of.
“I think knowledge is power and now that we're more aware of it we take the preventive steps that we are checking ourselves,” Sean Wolf said.
After a mastectomy and chemotherapy treatments, Singer is now considered to be cancer free and wants other men to know they have a fighting chance by arming them with information, something he says is lacking.
“I just wanted to find out why the disease acted differently in guys, why there was no information on male breast cancer, why nobody knows male breast cancer exists,” Singer said.
Singer said when he looked for answers during his fight with cancer; there were few resources for men.
That’s why he wrote about it in his book, “Sir, You Have Breast Cancer,” and started an organization called HIS Breast Cancer Awareness.
For Singer, he said his work is just beginning.
“I feel like I have so much more work to do,” Singer said.
For more information, visit http://hisbreastcancer.org/information-about-male-breast-cancer.html