Dr. Scott Timbert, a breast health specialist, takes a break following several hours of surgery at Piedmont Henry Hospital. (Staff Photo: Heather Middleton)
McDONOUGH — Dr. Scott Timbert has been a breast health specialist for 15 years.
In that time, he’s only seen about four cases of breast cancer in men.
Although the disease is often associated with women and men are about 100 times less likely to develop breast cancer, approximately 410 men will die from it every year, according to www.cancer.org.
Timbert said about half of the men diagnosed with breast cancer will die from the disease.
“Men have a tendency to ignore the signs and will often present in the late stages of the disease,” he said.
Timbert said signs often include thickening behind the nipple, with or without tenderness, nipple discharge or having a firm, thick or irregular feeling of the breast.
“If the symptons last longer than two to three weeks with no trauma association, it should be checked,” he said. “Men should be able to feel it when taking a shower.”
If an irregularity is found, Timbert said men should visit their primary care doctor first to rule out any other problems.
Diagnosing and treatment of breast cancer in men is the same as women.
“They get the same chemotherapy, treatment and operations as women,” Timbert said.
He also explained that sometimes, even if a tumor is not cancer, getting checked out can lead to finding another problem or form of cancer.
“Sometimes the thickening of the breast tissue is related to something else, like cancer in the lymph nodes, a tumor in the pituitary gland or even testicular cancer,” Timbert said.
No matter the disease, however, catching the problem early can help save a man’s life.
Breast cancer is not discerning, it develops in men or women much in the same way.
“Breast cancer occurs when some breast cells begin growing abnormally. The cells divide more rapidly than healthy cells. They accumulate to form a tumor that may spread to nearby tissue, the lymph nodes or other parts of the body,” according to www.mayoclinic.com.
Some factors for breast cancer in men include older age, family history, exposure to estrogen, liver disease and obesity.
All across the nation, October is being celebrated as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
At Piedmont Henry Hospital, they are promoting awareness of the disease with their Real Men Wear Pink Campaign. Though both nationally and locally, the spotlight is primarily on women, it’s also a good reminder that men should be checked out if a symptom develops.
“We’re promoting education and awareness along with early detection,” said Donna Braddy, marketing/public relations director at Piedmont Henry.
The hospital will be taking part in several events with its campaign including Ladies’ Night Out on Oct. 10 in the McDonough Square and Tanger Fit for a Cure 5K at Tanger Outlets in Locust Grove on Oct. 12.
Timbert has one last piece of advice for men — don’t wait.
“Don’t ignore a new finding, get it checked out.”