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in young men,” Sugarman notes, “and when it does occur, it usually has a genetic cause.”


Know the signs The telltale signs of breast cancer in men are fairly similar to those seen in women, Sugarman says. They include a breast lump, as ex- perienced by Thibodeau, and breast pain, which was Profesorsky’s first indication something was wrong. “I used to keep my cellphone in


my breast pocket, and I thought that was the cause of my discomfort,” he explains. “I asked my nurse prac- titioner about it during a regular checkup, and she took it from there through diagnosis.”


Other symptoms include dry, itchy


nipples; redness in the breast area; and discharge from the nipple. “Those are much less common presentations,” Sugarman says, “but they should all be evaluated by a physician.” Treatment also is very similar.


Most men opt for a mastectomy, and if the lymph nodes are found to be involved, chemotherapy might be recommended. Because most cases of male breast cancer are hormone-pos- itive, a drug called tamoxifen, which blocks estrogen activity in the breast, commonly is prescribed. Men with a family history of breast


cancer typically are referred for ge- netic testing, Sugarman says. If they test positive for the BRCA2 mutation,


they might be given the option of a bilateral mastectomy to eliminate the possibility of a second breast cancer later in life. Treatment of breast cancer in men


can be difficult, but it’s usually more direct than it is among women, Sugar- man notes. There seldom is a need for breast reconstruction following a mas- tectomy, and the side effects of chemo- therapy tend to be slightly milder.


Effects of treatment Upon learning he was positive for the BRCA2 mutation, Thibodeau first un- derwent six months of chemotherapy. The grueling regimen hit him hard. “I lost my hair, and my eyes looked sunk- en,” he recalls.


[CONTINUES ON PAGE 70] OCTOBER 2016 MILITARY OFFICER 59


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