Life After Male Breast Cancer
- Kiss drummer Peter Criss, who has been cancer-free since 2008, celebrated the New Year by releasing a new version of the Kiss classic “Dirty Livin’.”
- The 77-year-old musician was diagnosed with male breast cancer in 2008 after noticing a lump on his chest while working out. He was declared cancer-free after undergoing a lumpectomy.
- Treatment for male breast cancer is largely the same as female breast cancer, say experts. While men do have some special considerations, treatment options depend greatly on a variety of factors, including the size of the tumor and how far the cancer cells have spread, as well as biologic and genetic factors which may be powering your cancer.
- Treatment options may include surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiation therapy and targeted therapy.
The 77-year-old male breast cancer survivor’s new version of the 1979 Kiss hit was shared on New Year’s Eve by KISS My Kollectibles: A KISS Collecting Podcast.Read More
Criss, who has been married three times and has a daughter named Jenilee, first left the band Kiss in 1980, before joining the group again for a reunion tour in the 1990s and in 2004. His replacement drummer was Eric Singer.
Criss’ Shocking Diagnosis
Criss’ new song version comes about 15 years after he was declared cancer-free.
Back in 2007, the retired American musician, born George Peter John Criscuola, first noticed a painful lump in his chest during a workout.
However, he didn’t rush to get the lump check as his wife had been fighting another type of cancer at the time, according to Rolling Stone.
It wasn’t until February 2008 that a nodule was removed from his chest, ultimately revealing he had breast cancer, which Criss recounted as “a nightmare” he “just couldn’t believe.”
Thankfully, following another surgery one month later, the cancer which didn’t spread, was removed and chemotherapy was not needed.
Since his recovery, Criss undergoes mammograms every month to check if the breast cancer has returned.
When Criss publicly opened up about his cancer battle in 2009, he said, “I fought with it for the first year or two when I had it. Should I go on CNN? Should I discuss it? I prayed hard on it and eventually decided, better me than some tabloid that never says the truth and ruins people’s lives … so I wanted to beat them to the punch.”
“God’s given me five more years, and I’m a devoted Catholic and know it’s a miracle I’ve had when I hear a doctor say that a man’s coming in because he saw my commercial and said, Gee, if Peter Criss can do it I can do it,” he stated.
“It’s an honor to educate people about male breast cancer and reaching out and letting people know about it. I’m so freaked out about it. I’ve gotten many accolades in the 50 years I’ve done this but there’s one no more greater then saving a life and recently that theme has been my calling.”
Happy 77th Birthday, Peter Criss! We hope your special day rocks. Enjoy! pic.twitter.com/6WIMpltZMk
— KISS (@kiss) December 20, 2022
Criss’ cancer was removed through a lumpectomy, surgery to remove a cancer or abnormal tissue from the breast.
A lumpectomy also known as breast-conserving surgery because, unlike mastectomy, only the tumor and some of the surrounding tissue is removed. The surgery typically takes about an hour and is an outpatient procedure–meaning a patient will be able to go home the same day. “It’s abnormal to have a lot of pain after a lumpectomy,” says Dr. Sarah Cate, a breast surgeon at Mount Sinai Health System.
For early stage breast cancer, studies have shown that lumpectomy plus radiation is as effective a treatment in preventing a recurrence of breast cancer as mastectomy.
What Is Male Breast Cancer?
The lifetime risk of getting breast cancer is about 1 in 833 for men. In addition, the American Cancer Society estimates that about 2,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in men in the United States in 2022.
Related: Man Visits Doctor Complaining Of ‘A Distorted Nipple’ And Mysterious Chest Pain: It Turned Out To Be Male Breast Cancer
There are several risk factors that can increase a man’s chance of developing the disease, just like in the case of female breast cancer. If you’re a man with any, all or some of the following risk factors, vigilance is key.
Possible Risk Factors for Male Breast Cancer:
- Age. Breast cancer risk increases with age, and most cancers are found in patients over 50. The average age of a man diagnosed with breast cancer is 72.
- Family history. Men with close blood relatives who have had breast cancer are at higher risk for the disease.
- Genetic mutations. Patients may inherit gene defects that make them more susceptible to breast cancer. Men with a mutation in the BRCA2 gene have a 6 percent lifetime risk of developing breast cancer, and men with a mutation in the BRCA1 gene have a 1 percent lifetime risk. These gene mutations are most commonly found in families with strong histories of breast or ovarian cancer, but they have also been found in male breast cancer patients without a family history.
- Klinefelter syndrome. Men with Klinefelter syndrome are born with at least one extra X chromosome which may increase a man’s breast cancer risk by producing high levels of estrogen (a hormone responsible for female sex characteristics) and low levels of androgens (hormones responsible for male sex characteristics). This condition affects about 1 in 1,000 men, and can raise the risk of breast cancer by 20 – 60 times that of the general population.
- Hormone therapy. Men who have been treated with drugs containing estrogen are at a greater breast cancer risk. These drugs were once used to treat prostate cancer, and they are still used in sex reassignment processes.
- Conditions affecting the testicles. Testicle injuries, swelling or removal surgery can increase a man’s risk for the disease by disrupting normal hormone levels.
- Liver disease. Diseases that impede the liver (like cirrhosis) may raise men’s estrogen production and lower their androgen levels, therefore, increasing breast cancer risk.
- Alcohol. Heavy drinking is known to raise the risk of breast cancer (which may be related to alcohol’s effect on the liver).
- Radiation therapy. Men who have received radiation therapy to their chests (for conditions like lymphoma) have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
- Obesity. Fat cells can transform androgens into estrogens, boosting the possibility of an overweight man developing breast cancer.
If any of the above risk factors applies to you, consult your doctor and feel free to ask questions. While it’s true that men can work to lower their breast cancer risk by exercising and maintaining a healthy bodyweight, the most important element of effective cancer treatment is an early diagnosis.
Symptoms of Male Breast Cancer Can Include:
- A lump developed in the breast (usually painless), or a thickening in the breast tissue
- Nipple pain
- An inverted nipple
- Discharge from the nipple, which may be clear or bloody (this was Mathew Knowles’ first symptom)
- Changes to the color or texture of the nipple and areola
- Changes to the color or texture of skin on the chest
- Enlarged lymph nodes under the arm
If You Feel Something, Say Something — Men Ignore Symptoms Too Often
Treatment for male breast cancer is largely the same as female breast cancer. A person’s options depend greatly on a variety of factors, including the size of the tumor and how far the cancer cells have spread, but possibilities include surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiation therapy and targeted therapy.
There is Nothing to Be Ashamed of with Male Breast Cancer
Marc Futterweit is a two-time breast cancer survivor … and he knows first-hand that the shame that comes with a diagnosis of male breast cancer can be quite debilitating. The urge to just ignore the symptoms and tell yourself breast cancer is a woman’s disease may sway you from getting screened. But Marc has become an advocate for the disease, and is now dedicated to halting that way of thinking.
Related: Shocked Survivor, 79, Beats Male Breast Cancer After Seeking Medical Opinion About His Frequently Flaking Nipples
“Men are basically standing in the shadows,” Marc says. “They’re ashamed or embarrassed … this is a woman’s disease. [But] why can’t men get breast cancer?” A lot of people assume men can’t even get breast cancer because they don’t have breasts, but that’s not the case. The American Cancer Society estimates that about 2,550 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the United States, and 480 men will die from it. It’s much less common in men than it is in women (the lifetime risk of a man getting breast cancer is about 1 in 833), but surveillance and screening is still important.
Related: Iowa Priest, 55, Battles Male Breast Cancer and Lives by Tom Petty’s Lyrics: ‘I Won’t Back Down’
That’s why Marc’s philosophy is “if you feel something, say something.” He detected his own cancer when he felt an odd lump on his chest during a shower. He admits, he was baffled when his doctor suggested he get a mammogram, but in reality, it probably saved his life. “The problem with men is that they wait, and they think things are going to go away,” Marc says. “Once they’re diagnosed, sometimes it’s too late.”
Breast Cancer Survivor Mathew Knowles, Father of Beyoncé and Solange, Urges to ‘Take Control of Your Health’
Contributing: SurvivorNet Staff
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