Breast cancer awareness is almost exclusively associated with women. From the pink ribbons and "fight like a girl" garb to widespread messages for women to get annual mammograms and perform regular self-examinations, there isn't much space for men to consider that they too could be diagnosed with breast cancer. Seventy-five-year-old Army veteran Boyd Elliott shared his story with his local newspaper, The (Fredericksburg, Virginia) Free Lance-Star, to remind men that they aren't exempt from the disease.
While the risk of breast cancer in men is much lower than it is in women, the disease is still fairly rare. In most cases, breast cancer in men is diagnosed at a later stage, when the disease has already spread to other parts of the body. pic.twitter.com/SttJevYFz5— MicroGen Health (@MicroGenHealth) November 7, 2022
Elliot first noticed a hard lump on his left nipple and brushed it off. As the lump grew bigger over a couple of weeks, he finally told his wife about it, who urged him to get it examined by a doctor. After having tissue drawn for a biopsy, Elliot was shocked to learn that he had stage 2 breast cancer. He, like many other men, didn't realize that men could get breast cancer, but after a full mastectomy, years of chemotherapy, and a handful of other cancer drugs, he now knows better.
Each year, more than 2,700 men are diagnosed with breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. About 530 of them succumb to the disease. Breast cancer in men presents itself similarly as it does in women, emerging as a mass and responding the same way to treatment, a report published on the National Library of Medicine website says. But the overall prognosis for men can often be worse than for women since men aren't as informed about the threat that breast cancer poses and may wait longer to see a doctor, increasing the chances of its growth and spread. “I’d like to let men know it can happen and I’m a testimony to that,” Elliot told the newspaper. “If you ever feel something out of the ordinary, go get it checked out. It may be nothing to worry about, but if it is something that needs to be taken care of, catch it early.”
After receiving treatment at the Veteran Affairs facility in Richmond, Elliot is now fully recovered from his bout with breast cancer, and has resumed his activities, which include his role as Virginia's "Pickle King." The Army vet cans his own dill pickles and has entered them in local and state fairs, winning three first-place ribbons at the state fair plus a couple of ribbons at the local county fair. These days, aside from making 90 jars of pickles each year, Elliot told The Free Lance-Star he has scaled back his work schedule to three days a week so he can "slow down a little" and enjoy his renewed lease on life.
Learn more about breast cancer in men on the American Cancer Society website