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WI Survivor: Breast Cancer is Not Just an Issue for Women

PHOTO: Tom Retzack is a survivor of breast cancer. According the American cancer society about 2,200 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.
PHOTO: Tom Retzack is a survivor of breast cancer. According the American cancer society about 2,200 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.
October 8, 2012

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. - Tom Retzack of Sheboygan is a man's man, a sports official who puts on the stripes and blows the whistle at football, basketball and baseball games. Retzack is also a breast cancer survivor, who will soon pass the nine-year mark since his first diagnosis. He's glad he was sitting down when the doctor gave him the diagnosis of breast cancer.

"Let's say a little bit of a shock - I'm a male. I got breast cancer. I'm shocked. Not knowing, not thinking ahead - in the year I was diagnosed, 2,000 guys were diagnosed, but I was one of the very few in this area to be diagnosed."

This year, about 2,200 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and more than 400 will die from it, according to the American Cancer Society.

Tom has no problem sharing his story with other men, who he says are often as shocked as he was.

"They don't think 'Okay, well, yah, he's got breasts.' They don't think that it's a fatty tissue in a guy, and whatever."

A family history of breast cancer often puts men at risk, but that was not the case with Retzack. The cause of most breast cancers in men is still unknown. It's about 100 times less common in men than in women.

Tom's advice to other men is to do self-examinations.

"If you develop a lump in the area, and you go to a doctor, please have him check it out, because 90 percent of the doctors who perform physicals do not give a male a breast cancer exam. They will give you a testicular exam, but they will not give you a breast cancer exam."

The American Cancer Society says the best things a man can do to lower his risk of breast cancer are to reduce alcohol consumption and maintain a healthy body weight. The best strategy for reducing deaths caused by breast cancer is early detection, and that's true for both men and women.

More information on breast cancer is available from the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 or www.cancer.org.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI