Dad-of-five hit with breast cancer diagnosis but didn’t know men could get it

This Morning: Breast cancer examination

When Doug Harper first discovered a cyst on his left nipple he never would have imagined it was caused by breast cancer.

The dad-of-five had no idea men could even get the deadly disease.

Luckily, the now 61-year-old decided to see his GP, even though the growth was only causing mild irritation.

“I get on well with my GP so initially we were chatting and laughing, but after I took my top off his whole manner changed,” he told My London.

This was followed by a number of tests at hospital, leading to a diagnosis just three days before his 50th birthday, in 2012.

READ MORE Oncologist shares early sign of most common cancer in UK that is often missed

His initial reaction was shock due to the word “cancer”, he said.

Doug, who now lives in south east London, underwent chemotherapy in the spring of 2012 and was declared cancer-free in mid-December.

He also focused on raising awareness of his condition immediately after hearing his diagnosis.

The former Walthamstow print worker said: “I thought something good needs to come out of this so I’ll start a blog to raise awareness.

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“It started to get attention from charities, and since then I’ve been doing loads of work to spread the word.”

Awareness needs to be improved even in the medical sector, he said.

Doug, who is sharing his story as part of the Asda Tickled Pink campaign, recalled: “A day after I was diagnosed I went to the pharmacy to pick up my prescription of tamoxifen.

“The pharmacist then said really loudly, ‘This can’t be for you, it’s for women with breast cancer’.

“I said to him, ‘Men can get breast cancer too mate’.”

He continued: “It was tough for someone to say that in a full pharmacy.

“That’s the first time I said that sentence and I must’ve said it a million times since.”

Doug has since started a men’s forum with the help of Breast Cancer Now to allow men with breast cancer to chat over video call about their experiences.

According to breast cancer awareness charity, CoppaFeel, around 400 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the UK.

However, the death rate from the disease is higher among men than women because many don’t realise they have the disease or are misdiagnosed.

The NHS lists symptoms of breast cancer in men as:

  • A lump in the breast – this is usually hard, painless and does not move around within the breast
  • The nipple turning inwards
  • Fluid oozing from the nipple (nipple discharge), which may be streaked with blood
  • A sore or rash around the nipple that does not go away
  • The nipple or surrounding skin becoming hard, red or swollen
  • Small bumps in the armpit (swollen glands).

It is most common in men over the age of 60, but can affect anyone of any age.

If you experience any symptoms you should speak to your doctor.

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