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Tom More, 67, of Custer, Wash., was showering when he felt a pea-size lump last year near his right nipple. Because a golfing buddy had breast cancer, More didn't put off seeing his doctor. The doctor told More that he was his first male breast cancer patient.
Robert Kaitz, a computer business owner in Severna Park, Md., thought the small growth under his left nipple was just a harmless cyst, like ones that had been removed from his back. By the time he had it checked out in 2006, almost two years later, the lump had started to hurt.
The diagnosis was a shock.
"I had no idea in the world that men could even get breast cancer," Kaitz said. He had a mastectomy, and 25 nearby lymph nodes were removed, some with cancer. Chemotherapy and radiation followed.
Tests showed Kaitz, 52, had a BRCA genetic mutation that has been linked to breast and ovarian cancer in women. He may have gotten the mutation from his mother, who is also a breast cancer survivor. It has also been linked to prostate cancer, which Kaitz was treated for in 2009.
A powerboater and motorcycle buff, Kaitz jokes about being a man with a woman's disease but said he is not embarrassed and doesn't mind showing his breast surgery scar.
The one thing he couldn't tolerate was tamoxifen, a hormone treatment commonly used to help prevent breast cancer from returning in women. It can cause menopausal symptoms, so he stopped taking it.
"It killed me. I tell you what -- night sweats, hot flashes, mood swings, depression. I'd be sitting in front of the TV watching a drama and the tears wouldn't stop pouring," he said.
Doctors sometimes prescribe antidepressants or other medication to control those symptoms.
Now Kaitz gets mammograms every year. Men need to know that "we're not immune," he said. "We have the same plumbing."
Male breast cancer: http://bit.ly/ayq2S6
Support group: http://www.malebreastcancer.org/
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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