Your Health: Local man fighting breast cancer, raising awareness

By News Staff

Reporting by Doreen Scanlon

dscanlon@abc6.com

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and although it’s primarily a battle fought by woman, there’s a very small number of men who are also fighting the disease.

ABC6 News Anchor, Doreen Scanlon, sat down with a local man who will lose his battle with breast cancer, but is using the time he has left to try and make a different by raising awareness about the disease that most men don’t even know they can get.

"They would look at me, and I had a pink robe. They’d be talking, and I would say, ‘I’m here like you. I’m here to protect my tatas. I have breast cancer,’" says Joseph Lugo.

Lugo is one of roughly two thousand men in the United States diagnosed with breast cancer every year, that’s about one percent of diagnoses.

"It sounds like a small number if it’s country wide, but many of those men are diagnosed at a later stage," says Maureen DiPiero of the Gloria Gemma Foundation.

For that reason, the Gloria Gemma Foundation says is can make it more difficult to treat in men.

"If you look at percentages of deaths caused by cancer, the percentage of men is slightly higher than the percentage of women who die of breast cancer," says DiPiero.

Male or female, the course of treatment is the same, whether it be radiation, chemo, or surgery. Joseph has a partial mastectomy. His breast cancer was found early only because of another cancer–he has merkel cell carcinoma, a rare skin cancer.

"They can’t find the primary site of the cancer, so the cancer is always going to be ‘peek-a-boo.’ It keeps spreading. It’s not curable. Every seven days the cancer grows. I know I will die from cancer, I just want to enjoy the time I have left," says Lugo.

He’s making the most of every day. He married his partner, Kevin, this past summer, and has used his diagnosis to raise awareness about breast cancer in men, teaming up with his fraternity brothers from Johnson and Wales to fundraise for Gloria Gemma.

Symptoms to male breast cancer are similar to women: lumps, rash, changes to the breast. The best prevention is screening with self exams and annual clinical appointments.

© WLNE-TV 2015