Lake Elsinore man uses his story to raise awareness about male breast cancer

TARZANA, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Male breast cancer is somewhat rare, but since there's no regular screening test for men, it often gets diagnosed at a much later stage.

One survivor wants more men to be aware, so they can know what symptoms to look out for.

"You never read about it. You never hear about it," said 69-year-old Steven Lathrop of Lake Elsinore.

"Typically in male cases the disease tends to be more advanced than in women," said Dr. Jason McKellop, Imaging Director of Breastlink in Tarzana.

"I was in shock big time because I never heard of men having breast cancer before," Lathrop said.

He was getting his regular skin cancer check, when his dermatologist noticed a strange rash on his right nipple.

"And she says, 'This doesn't look right,'" Lathrop said.

Imaging scans revealed it was stage 2 breast cancer.

Since there isn't a screening protocol for men, McKellop said male breast cancer doesn't usually get caught early.

"It has more time to grow in size and potentially metastasize," he said.

Less than one percent of breast cancer cases occur in men.

There is about 1,600 cases annually nationwide.

Risk factors include aging, family history, inherited gene mutations, alcohol, obesity and radiation exposure.

Like women, treatment depends on the extent of the disease.

Lathrop underwent a mastectomy on his right side and he takes the medication Tamoxifen daily.

McKellop said if something looks and feels unusual, men should not be afraid to ask their doctors.

"Just have a general breast awareness, get a yearly physical exam done," McKellop said.

Yearly exams are what saved Lathrop's life. That's why he wants others to know breast cancer can happen in men.

"I am a survivor," he said, "Needless to say, I'm pretty happy about being one. "
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