I Have What??? - One Mans Journey Through Breast Cancer

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Doctors may use the following types of biopsy. Fine needle aspiration FNA uses a very thin needle and syringe to remove a small amount of tissue from a lump. It can help find out if the lump is a cyst or a tumour.

It is the most common type of biopsy used to diagnose breast cancer in men because most lumps can be easily reached with the needle. Find out more about fine needle aspirations FNAs. Surgical, or open, biopsy removes all or part of a lump or abnormal area. An excisional biopsy removes the whole lump or abnormal area with a margin of healthy tissue around it. An incisional biopsy removes only part of the lump or abnormal area. Find out more about surgical biopsies.

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One Man's Journey Through Breast Cancer Exhibition - Melbourne

Breast cancer cells can break away from a tumour and travel through the lymphatic system to lymph nodes. A lymph node biopsy is used to remove lymph nodes so they can be examined under a microscope to find out if they have cancer in them.


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The number of lymph nodes that have cancer helps doctors determine the stage of breast cancer. Axillary lymph node dissection ALND removes lymph nodes from under the arm called the axilla. ALND is the most common way to check the lymph nodes in men. Find out more about axillary lymph node dissections. Some breast cancer cells have receptors for these hormones. When the hormones attach to these receptors, they can stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells. Hormone receptor status testing is used to find out if the breast cancer cells have estrogen receptors ERs , progesterone receptors PRs or both.

This information will help your healthcare team decide which treatment plan will work best for you. Find out more about hormone receptor status testing. HER2 stands for human epidermal growth factor receptor 2. It is a gene that has changed mutated , so it helps a tumour grow called an oncogene. HER2 status testing is done to find out if the breast cancer cells are making more HER2 protein than normal called overexpression. Only a small number of breast cancers in men are HER2 positive. Find out more about HER2 status testing. Your doctor may order other tests to check your general health.

You may also have tests to find out if the cancer has spread metastasized to other parts of the body. Find out more about a diagnosis. To make the decisions that are right for you, ask your healthcare team questions about a diagnosis. The same grading system is used for breast cancer in men and women.

Find out more about grading breast cancer. The same staging system is used for breast cancer in men and in women. Breast cancer in men is often diagnosed at a later stage than in women. It has usually started to spread to other parts of the body when it is diagnosed. Find out more about staging breast cancer. If you have breast cancer, you may have questions about your prognosis. Prognosis and survival depend on many factors. Only a doctor familiar with your medical history, the type, stage and characteristics of your cancer, the treatments chosen and the response to treatment can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.

A prognostic factor is an aspect of the cancer or a characteristic of the person that the doctor will consider when making a prognosis. The stage of the cancer is the most important prognostic factor for breast cancer in men. Doctors will consider the number of lymph nodes that contain cancer and the size of the tumour when it was diagnosed. There is a lower risk that early stage breast cancer will come back recur , so it has a more favourable prognosis.

The risk for recurrence is greater when the cancer is at a later stage, so it has a less favourable prognosis. Survival statistics are very general estimates and must be interpreted very carefully. There are many different ways to measure and report cancer survival statistics. Your doctor can explain the statistics for breast cancer in men and what they mean to you. Net survival represents the probability of surviving cancer in the absence of other causes of death.

It is used to give an estimate of the percentage of people who will survive their cancer. There are no specific Canadian statistics available for the different stages of breast cancer in men. The following information comes from a variety of sources. It may include statistics from other countries that are likely to have similar outcomes as in Canada. If you have breast cancer, your healthcare team will create a treatment plan just for you. It will be based on your health and specific information about the cancer.

When deciding which treatments to offer for breast cancer, your healthcare team will consider: Breast cancer in men is often treated in the same way as breast cancer in post-menopausal women. You may be offered one or more of the following treatments. Surgery is the most common treatment for breast cancer in men.

Depending on the stage of the tumour, you may have one or both of the following types of surgery.

One man's journey through breast cancer

Modified radical mastectomy is done to remove the tumour and a margin of healthy tissue around it. Axillary lymph node dissection ALND is done to remove lymph nodes from under the arm called the axilla. It is used to find out how many of these lymph nodes have cancer in them to help doctors stage the cancer.

Find out more about surgery for breast cancer. Chemotherapy may be used to treat breast cancer in men if it has spread to lymph nodes or if there is a high risk that it will come back.

The drugs used are the same as those given to post-menopausal women with breast cancer. The most common combination of chemotherapy drugs used to treat breast cancer in men is: There are no standard treatments for advanced, metastatic or recurrent breast cancer in men. Doctors may give the same combinations of chemotherapy drugs used to treat post-menopausal women with advanced and metastatic breast cancer.

More research is needed to find out how effective these drug combinations are for men with breast cancer. Most breast cancers in men are hormone receptor—positive tumours, which means that they may respond to hormonal therapy. It is used to lower the risk that the cancer will come back or to treat advanced or recurrent breast cancer. Anti-estrogen drugs stop breast cancer cells from getting estrogen. Tamoxifen Nolvadex, Tamofen is the drug used most often for men with breast cancer. It may be offered after surgery to reduce the risk that the cancer will come back.

It may also be used for advanced breast cancer. Luteinizing hormone—releasing hormone LHRH agonists may be given to lower the level of sex hormones in the body. The drugs most commonly used are goserelin Zoladex , leuprolide Lupron, Lupron Depot, Eligard and buserelin Suprefact. Anti-androgen drugs may be given to help lower the side effects from LHRH agonists and to lower the amount of androgen in the body. The anti-androgen drugs most commonly used are flutamide Euflex and bicalutamide Casodex.

Aromatase inhibitors lower the amount of aromatase in the body. Aromatase is an enzyme that the body uses to make estrogen. These drugs are used as standard treatments for breast cancer in post-menopausal women, but doctors are still studying their role in treating breast cancer in men. Orchiectomy is surgery to remove the testicles. Removing the testicles lowers the amount of androgen that can be changed into estrogen, and so lowers the amount of estrogen in the body. This is a very effective hormonal therapy, but some men may not be comfortable with this treatment option.

Find out more about hormone receptor status testing and hormonal therapy for breast cancer. A man who has HER2-positive breast cancer may be given trastuzumab Herceptin in combination with chemotherapy. Find out more about targeted therapy for breast cancer. External beam radiation therapy may be used as adjuvant therapy after surgery to treat breast cancer in men. It may be given after mastectomy if the cancer has spread to the muscles in the chest or to a large number of lymph nodes.

Find out more about radiation therapy for breast cancer. Follow-up after treatment is an important part of cancer care. You will need to have regular follow-up visits, especially in the first 5 years after treatment has finished.

These visits allow your healthcare team to monitor your progress and recovery from treatment. A few clinical trials in Canada are open to men with breast cancer. Clinical trials look at new ways to prevent, find and treat cancer. Find out more about clinical trials. To make the decisions that are right for you, ask your healthcare team questions about treatment. For more detailed information on specific drugs, go to sources of drug information.

Recovering from breast cancer and adjusting to life after cancer treatment is different for each person, depending on the stage of the cancer, the type of treatment and many other factors. The end of cancer treatment may bring mixed emotions. Even though treatment has ended, there may be other issues you have to deal with, such as coping with long-term side effects. Many men find it difficult to talk about their breast cancer diagnosis because it is often seen as a cancer that only women get.

Types of tumours

Your healthcare team can support you and can suggest resources if you have trouble talking about your feelings or have concerns about the following or other issues. You may develop lymphedema in your arm when lymph nodes under your arm are removed during an axillary lymph node dissection. Find out more about lymphedema and how it can be treated. Sexual problems , such as not being able to get or keep an erection, are a side effect of hormonal therapy for breast cancer in men.

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