9/11 survivor shocked by the diagnosis of breast cancer: “But I’m a man’

connectVideo9/11 survivor: ‘But I’m a man, and men don’t get breast cancer’

In 2018, about 2,550 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in men. Fox News’ Dr. Manny Alvarez sitting with two male breast cancer survivors who say they were exposed to Ground Zero toxins that may have contributed to their diagnosis of cancer.

Breast cancer Awareness has the tendency to focus on women with the disease, but of all people around the world can be afflicted with this form of cancer. In fact, this year, 480 men will die of breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

That number may seem small in comparison with the 40,920 women who die from breast cancer in 2018, but many men admit that they are horribly uneducated about the disease.

“I never knew that men can get breast cancer, that is a real problem in conversation,” Jeff Flynn, a breast cancer survivor, told Fox News.

Flynn, 65, of Long Island, New York, was shocked when he was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2011. At first, he noticed some pain around his nipple, but ignored it. It was only months later when his wife pointed out his inverted nipple, that he went to see a doctor.

“She [my wife] knew that was a classic symptom of breast cancer, so I said, ‘Okay, I’m going to my doctor,'” Flynn said.

After a mastectomy, Flynn of the doctors told him they took 35 lymph nodes, 34 cancer.

“I was shocked. Your whole life changes, ” What am I going to do about the work? I’m going to die? What about my children?'” Flynn said. “Forty percent of the men who get breast cancer die because they do not know about the disease, and they are waiting just like I did.”

70-year-old Nathan Spencer of Staten Island is also a breast cancer survivor. When he was diagnosed with stage 3B, his first thought was: “But I’m a man, and men don’t get breast cancer?”

Spencer first discovered something wasn’t right when he noticed a terrible itching on his right nipple and “felt something,” which was later identified as a tumor.

“Never assuming that because you are of a particular gender, race, height, whatever the case is, never assume,” Spencer said. “If you notice that something is off about your body, check it out.”


Spencer and Flynn more than just their diagnosis of breast cancer in common. The two men were both works by the World Trade Center when the 9/11 attack occurred. Something that some experts believe may have contributed to their diagnosis of cancer.

A 2011 study published in The Lancet found World Trade Center-exposed NYC firemen 19 percent increased risk of cancer compared with non-exposed FDNY firefighters.

Lawyer Michael Barasch represents Spencer, Flynn, and 28 other men who were diagnosed with breast cancer after exposure to Ground Zero toxins.

“They found chromium, lead, benzene. This was all in the kerosene which the building in a fire for a period of 99 days. It was not only in the air, it was boiling,” Barasch told Fox News.

Fox News’ Dr. Manny Alvarez sit down with breast cancer survivors Jeff Flynn and Nathan Spencer, together with their lawyer Michael Barasch to talk about their journey with the disease and the signs and symptoms that all men should know.

Flynn, who worked for Goldman Sachs the centre at the time of 9/11 and saw both planes fly into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center, said the ground was like a green mud, dirt, and smelly.

“You could almost taste the air as a metallic taste,” Flynn said. “They shut down the area for a few days, but Christine Todd Whitman at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that the air was safe to breathe, so my company moved to that so we went down and went and did our work.”

Flynn was diagnosed with breast cancer about 10 years after the attacks of 9/11.

Although the risk for breast cancer in men may be higher for people who lived and worked near Ground Zero, all men should be aware of the signs and symptoms.

Symptoms of breast cancer in men:

A painless lump or thickening in the breast tissue
Changes to your nipple, (I. E. redness or flaking, or inverted nipple)
Changes to the skin on your chest, (I. E. this dimpling, puckering, redness or scaling)
Discharge from your nipple

Men have a 1 in 833 risk of developing breast cancer in their lifetime, compared with about a 1 in 8 lifetime risk for women, according to the American Cancer Society.

“People don’t realize it because we have not learned as a young age or in puberty to make a self-examination. We do not go to a gynaecologist.” Barasch said. “[And] we men we ignore things. So as a result when men get breast cancer is often already spread.”


Dr. Marleen Meyers, a medical oncologist at the NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center said that although male breast cancer is much rarer than female breast cancer, often not diagnosed until a later stage.

“The people doing the self-breast exams and ask their doctor for an exam. They should never ignore a lump in the breast,” Meyers told Fox News.

Some studies estimate that the cases of male breast cancer are on the rise. A report in the British Journal of Cancer, said the incidence of breast cancer in US men increased by 26 percent during 1973-1998.

“There are about 2,000 cases of male breast cancer are diagnosed each year in the US. This number has risen over the past 20 years,” Meyers said. “We can see an increase in part because of greater recognition of the disease and the importance of doing genetic testing in high risk people if they can carry the BRCA-gen.”

Meyers said another part of the increase is the increase of obesity in the US, which is associated with the risk of various forms of cancer.

Dr. Erika Hamilton, Director of Breast and Gynecologic Cancer Research Program at the Sarah Cannon Research Institute, said the man can do a few things to reduce their risk of breast cancer.

“Try to eat a healthy diet with less processed foods and maintaining a healthy body weight. Also avoid exposure to chemical substances,” Hamilton told Fox News.

Hamilton also said that people know their family history and whether or not of hereditary breast cancer genes BRCA1/2 is in your family.

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