A Wisconsin man beat male breast cancer by seeking a medical opinion soon after developing a concerning condition.
Robert Bursa, 79, tells Fox 11 that the skin on his nipple suddenly started to flake one day, something he had never experienced.Read More
That decision may have saved his life.
“I had that for a couple of weeks, and when I would take a shower, it would come off and get sort of raw, so I went into my family doctor, and I could see he was a little bit alarmed, so my next step was he sent me to have a mammogram,” explained Bursa.
When the mammogram results came back, Bursa got the surprise of a lifetime – he had breast cancer.
Bursa started to receive treatment soon after, and although it was not easy given his age, he did have hope because he detected the disease early.
“I said this isn’t going to beat me,” recalled Bursa. “Even though I struggled with the chemotherapy, I said to myself, well, I’m not going to die. I knew I wasn’t going to die.”
Not only did Bursa beat the disease, but he is now doing all he can to encourage men to check themselves and get screening if they have concerns.
“Don’t be embarrassed, don’t push it off if there’s an issue,” stated Bursa. “Early detection is everything in the cancer world, and I was fortunate. Some people aren’t.”
Bursa, who is in remission, continues to take screening seriously even after beating cancer.
He does self-exams at home and urges others to do the same and to seek out a medical professional or schedule a mammogram if they detect a lump.
“You probably could talk to 1,000 guys, and they never dream of having breast cancer type of thing,” said Bursa. “It’s the same situation. Ladies have to be able to check their breasts; men have to be able to check their breasts.”
Symptoms of Male Breast Cancer
The most common sign of breast cancer in men, as it is in women, is a lump in the breast.
Lumps around the collar bone or armpit are also common when the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes.
These lumps or swellings are often painless and can sometimes be too deep to be felt by hand or too small for the naked eye to see.
Other symptoms include:
- Skin dimpling or puckering
- Nipple retraction (turning inward)
- Redness or scaling of the nipple or breast skin
- Discharge from the nipple
Men Get Breast Cancer Too
Detecting Breast Cancer Early
Male breast cancer is just like every other form of cancer in that it is easier to treat if caught early.
Marc Futterweit called his doctor at the first sign of cancer just like Robert Bursa, although Futterweit needed a bit of a nudge from his wife.
“I play basketball and tennis every weekend. So, on a Sunday in November back in 2007, I came home, I turned on the shower, and as I was taking off my shirt, I guess my left thumb rubbed up against my left breast, and I felt something wet,” recounted Futterweit in a precious interview with SurvivorNet.
He then squeezed the area, and a dark liquid came out, which he showed to his wife. Her response? “Well, you better not do what you normally do, what guys do, and say I think it’s gonna go away.”
Futterweit called his doctor, who prescribed him an antibiotic and ordered a mammogram when that did not treat the problem.
He soon learned that he had a clogged mammary duct as well as a carcinoma in situ.
His doctor suggested that they make an incision, take out the nipple, the breast material, and the sheath and cells underneath. After getting a second opinion, Futterweit agreed that this was the best course of action.
Futterweit then continued to monitor his situation after surgery, which is how in 2016, he again detected cancer early and quickly started treatment.
“I felt a little agitation, if you will, in the same spot where my nipple used to be, and a little five-millimeter pimple showed up,” he explained.
“Went back to the doctor, he did a needle biopsy, and now it’s HER2-positive, and I had 12 weeks of chemo with Herceptin, which cures that gene that I have. And then seven weeks of radiation. Now I’m on Tamoxifen, and that’s where I am today.”