The Standard

Breast awareness is important for everyone

George Lawrence-Brown with his McGrath Breast Care Nurse, Catherine Peter. Picture supplied

In partnership with the McGrath Foundation.

Breast cancer is commonly believed to be a disease that affects only women, but, although much rarer in males, men too need to be on the lookout for symptoms.

In fact, it is estimated that approximately 212 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia this year.

"While it is less common in men, males do get breast cancer too," McGrath Foundation CEO Holly Masters said.

"Breast awareness is important for everyone."

"Many men don't realise they can get breast cancer."

As with women, vigilance and recognising early symptoms can make a huge difference to treatment and outcomes.

McGrath Foundation CEO Holly Masters. Picture supplied

"Breast cancer that is caught at an earlier stage is often easier to treat, leading to much better patient outcomes," Holly said.

"It's important for men to get to know their bodies and what they usually look and feel like, so if anything changes they can get it checked out.

"It's worth learning about the risk factors for breast cancer too."

For both men and women, breast health understanding means being aware of the importance of breast health, being confident in detecting changes, being knowledgeable about the risk factors for breast cancer and checking your breasts regularly.

George Lawrence-Brown, 68, was one of the men diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia last year.

"It was a surprise for me, as a man, to get a breast cancer diagnosis - absolutely," George said.

A lot of things crossed George's mind when he woke up one day to a sensitive lump excreting fluid from his nipple, but that it could be breast cancer was definitely not one of them.

Eight months later, he mentioned in passing to his doctor that the lump had grown a bit.

The diagnosis was quick and definitive and George underwent a mastectomy and axillary lymph node clearance.

Twenty-two lymph nodes were removed from his body before the cancer had a chance to spread.

For George, the support he found after his shock diagnosis and treatment came in large part from his McGrath Breast Care Nurses, Catherine Peter and Debbie Hayes.

"I didn't realise what a blessing it was," George said.

"It's just that personal touch.

"It gave me confidence that I had somebody there that I could rely on, I could just give a quick call to."

The McGrath Foundation provides tailored support for all people experiencing breast cancer.

"Men may need more assistance to understand their diagnosis and treatment, or to explain it to their family or friends," Holly said.

"They may also need information or access to support groups that meet their needs and our nurses assist with this."

New research commissioned by the McGrath Foundation reveals that one in five people in Australia experiencing breast cancer will miss out on the vital support of a dedicated breast care nurse this year. Picture supplied

McGrath Breast Care Nurses help individuals and their families affected by breast cancer by providing invaluable physical, psychological and emotional support, from the time of diagnosis and throughout treatment.

The McGrath Foundation's mission is to ensure that no one goes through breast cancer without the care of a breast care nurse.

The foundation currently funds 185 McGrath Breast Care Nurses in communities right across Australia.

"They provide patient centred care taking into account each individual's needs, including their gender," Holly said.

"The care of a McGrath Breast Care Nurse is available to anyone who needs it, free of charge and you don't need a doctor's referral.

"To find your nearest nurse, simply visit our website."

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Funding is needed to turn the McGrath Foundation's goal of 250 McGrath Breast Care Nurses by 2025 into reality.

To find out more and help ensure that no one misses out on care, go to:

  • ACM, publisher of this website, is a proud community partner of the McGrath Foundation.