Shining a Light on Men’s Breast Cancer

Published On: October 5, 2022

In late 2020, while the world struggled in response to a global pandemic, Brian Lynch was navigating a health concern of his own. After shoveling snow one evening, he noticed changes to one of his nipples. Like many, Brian turned to the computer for answers. What jumped out at him immediately was the possibility of male breast cancer. “I monitored the situation over the next few months and noticed additional symptoms that aligned with what I had read online,” recalls Brian. “I immediately called my doctor and was sent for a mammogram.”

In May of 2021, Brian was diagnosed with breast cancer.

He remembers every moment of that telephone call. “My heart was pounding so hard, I could hear it in my ears,” says Brian. “I was the very first case of male breast cancer that my family doctor had encountered.”

Within a few weeks Brian had a mastectomy followed by three months of chemotherapy. Both the surgery and treatment took place at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital (STEGH). “Although it was an extremely frightening and anxious time, I felt comfortable and relieved to be at STEGH and close to home and family,” says Brian.

Brian has dedicated much of the last year advocating and promoting breast cancer awareness among men. Researchers estimate that 270 new cases of breast cancer in men will be diagnosed in Canada in 2022. Of those, 55 will die. Unlike women, men don’t typically screen for breast cancer, and a lack of knowledge, understanding and awareness about male breast cancer puts men at a higher risk for late detection, diagnosis, treatment and survival.

Brian has also been working collaboratively with health care teams at STEGH to make changes to the Mammography and Chemotherapy Units to ensure they are a welcoming and comforting place for both men and women. STEGH recently adopted new signage and a change in process for how male and female patients are addressed in the Breast Assessment Centre. “These may sound like small changes, but to our patients, they make a huge difference,” says Yolanda Mundt, Manager of Diagnostic Imaging at STEGH. “This is just the start for us. We are dedicated to working with patients like Brian to better understand the experience and improve our services.”