What Men Should Know About Breast Cancer

There is absolutely no way that any man can understand how women feel when they find a lump. Women are told and taught to check their breasts on a regular basis, to be constantly aware that early location will lessen risks in the worst case scenario. But how on earth does a woman feel if and when the nightmare is confirmed? A lump is found. First thought – What is it it? Was it there yesterday? Does it hurt? Please don’t let it be that ….. Then it is essential, completely and utterly and totally imperative that a medical opinion is sought. Some women are martyrs, and will probably wait, maybe hoping that the lump will disappear, and that nothing is really wrong. Some simply don’t want to be seen to be wasting the doctor’s time.

It is never a waste of time to have a lump checked. While most women are more prone to fluid retention than men, and more rapid changes in body composition, a lump is still a lump. Doctors, surgeons, and experts tend to base their collective diagnoses on several criteria. Like the age of the patient, her lifestyle, her current state of health, and whether her family has a history of breast cancer. Between 5 and 10 per cent of breast cancers are genetic, but if the family carries one of the genes there is an 85 per cent risk of cancer development. Obviously, once a medical consultation has taken place, there will be tests. Lots of tests. Genetic tests, which can now detect the breast and ovarian cancer gene BRCA1, mammagrams, or ultrasound tests. A woman needs a immense support at this time.

The waiting time varies, and the counselling sometimes might not be adequate. It probably helps, but what can possibly prepare any woman for the news that cancer is present, and a mastectomy is necessary? One, maybe both breasts will be lost. Not a finger. Not an ear. A breast. Something that men see. Something that men like. Something that a woman might use to snag a man. Something that makes her feel like a woman, sexy, attractive, vivacious. Something she needs in motherhood. Gone forever. So now it’s the 21st century, and surgical technology means that after months of chemotherapy, then a mastectomy, then radiotherapy and reconstructive surgery, a woman can look whole, even if she doesn’t quite feel it. But there’s the hair loss, the weight gain, the possibility of infertility, the constant testing on the lymph system, the weight gain, and the feeling of lost femininity.

Men have to help their partners out. Some women may have surgery to increase the size of the lost breasts, and may be more than happy with a new look. Men have to remember that a mastectomy leaves women with little or no feeling. Temporary saline implants are the norm, but increasingly are being replaced with tissue implants, using skin, fat, arteries and veins from another part of the body, usually the buttocks. These microsurgery techniques are carried out over a lengthy period of time, as a permanent breast is built, followed by nipple grafts. Breast cancer takes its toll on both women and men, but to have part of the anatomy removed must be truly crushing.

Although one must assume that women who have been diagnosed with cancer are happy to remain alive and well, the physical and emotional cost is high. With constant aftercare goes constant re-assurance. Fear that the cancer might re-appear. That it might have spread. Women just seem to cope so well. Guys, we need to help our women locate lumps, and in cancer cases, through the painful years afterwards. There is no comparison that a man can make. Maybe having his penis removed, and replaced with a non working piece of flesh, grafted from the buttocks. And how would we cope with that?

Sandy Francis is a recently retired sportsman, who now dedicates his time to his original vocation of writing. His latest website at http://www.dubbletake.110mb.com features articles and solutions on health, fitness, diet, and wellbeing.

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