The recent years have seen an increased rate in male breast cancer. A couple in Connecticut suffered breast cancer that affected them both. Cancer survivors Gerard and Meg Campion dedicate their lives in raising awareness about male breast cancer.

One of Gerard Campion's male friends was previously diagnosed with breast cancer. He and his wife Meg Campion knew very little about breast cancer symptoms in men so they went ahead and Gerard had his screening.

In 2006, Gerard received his first breast cancer diagnosis after finding a 'blister-like bump' on his chest. Meg was shocked to hear about the diagnosis thinking, breast cancer is less likely to happen in men.

"It was obviously shocking. I think my first thought was, 'he's not supposed to have this, I am'," said Meg. Gerard underwent surgery and a series of chemotherapy. After three years, Meg was diagnosed with the same illness.

Luckily, Meg's breast cancer had not spread to other parts of her body. She also underwent surgery and chemotherapy. The two breast cancer survivors recalled how they kept their emotions at bay during tough times in order to support each other.

In 2011, Gerard's cancer returned, which spread to his bones. This made his case incurable. Gerard's second cancer diagnosis urged the couple to become active in raising male breast cancer awareness. Their efforts went as far as petitioning the state government to official make October's third week the Male Breast Cancer Awareness Week.

Meg shared that her husband talks about male breast cancer in Lions and rotary clubs. The couple is doing these efforts if it can help save even one family from going through the same ordeal.

Meg expressed their joint hope that doctors and health officials can come up with new ways to explain male breast cancer in patients without using pamphlets specialized for female patients.

"These men need to be respected as well. But when your husband is handed pamphlet that says side effects of treatment can be vaginal dryness...[and is given the same five years later] your sense of humor is not there anymore," said Meg.

Breast cancer is rare among men but it doesn't mean men are not vulnerable to the illness. According to the United States' American Cancer Society, approximately 2,350 new breast cancer cases in men will be documented in 2015. In women, the society projected around 231,840 new cases. The society also estimated that around 440 male patients will die of breast cancer in 2015.

Lynda Weeks, executive director of breast cancer research Susan G. Komen Louisville, estimated one in every 1,000 men is diagnosed will breast cancer. It remains unusual among men however, the diagnosis are typically documented when the cancer is already at a later stage.

Norton Cancer Institute medical oncologist Dr. Janell Seeger shared how the numbers of male breast cancer diagnosis are increasing. There has been a 26 percent increase in diagnosed cases in the last 25 years. Survival rates and treatments are relatively the same as those in female patients.

Doctors have yet to discover the actual causes of male breast cancer in men. Risk factors include family history of breast cancer, exposure to radiation, estrogen treatment, heavy intake of alcohol, obesity, inherited gene mutations, testicular conditions and aging.

Photo: Markus Spiske | Flickr

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