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Male breast cancer also recognized during October


October is breast cancer awareness month... But it's not just about women. Men are actually affected by the disease too.

Abc's doctor Jennifer Ashton has more.

I don't think men ever think to, you know, check for lumps in our....breasts and that's exactly what KGTV anchor Bill Griffith thought--until it happened to him.  In 2004, he was diagnosed with male breast cancer.

"You can be masculine, you can be normal in every way, and it can still get you," said Griffith.

Breast cancer is relatively rare among males--though this year alone--over 2,200 men will be diagnosed--and of those, more than 400 will die.

"While a much less frequent disease in men, it doesn't make it any less important to be aware of changes in your body," said Dr. Libutti.

No doctor's ever mentioned that to me.

Men should pay particular attention to these warning signs:
-a lump in or around the breast
-changes in skin surface or texture
-nipple discharge
-or a dimpling in of the nipple.

We call them pecks, right, we don't call them breasts.

"The main misconception with respect to men and breast cancer is the idea that men don't have breasts so how could they possibly get breast cancer," Libutti said.

There are risk factors--a family history--certain types of liver disease-- and genetic links, too.  If a man carries a BRCA gene mutation--like Angelina Jolie--his risk increases for breast, prostate and pancreatic cancers and melanoma as well.  The odds he'll pass that gene on to a son or
daughter is 50 percent.

Bill Griffith--who considers himself cured--says it's a little tough with the scarring even though it's not as bad a women would feel.

"I feel very uncomfortable, I never take my shirt off in public. A lesson for all men--get yourselves educated --then leave those myths and stigmas behind."