Kris testifies to save lives: “Men can get breast cancer too”

Men can also get breast cancer. We are talking about 11,000 patients diagnosed each year, 1% of whom are men.

It happened to Kris in 2010, when he was 50 years old. “As a man, we are less likely to develop the disease than women, but the outcome is sometimes fatal because we spend too long with the disease,” says Kris. That’s why I want to talk about it today.”

Her brother died of breast cancer in 1997, aged 42. So when Kris discovers that he has a small lump in his breast, he consults immediately. “It was a small cyst, not very big. We did a mammogram, which suggested it could be cancer.”

Intense treatment to overcome cancer

A biopsy confirms the fears. Kris continues with an examination, to check that there is no metastasis in the rest of the body, and the cancer is quickly taken care of. “First the operation. In men, in most cases the entire chest is removed.”

Next, Kris is treated with chemotherapy, then 25 sequences of rays, a ten-month treatment.

In which hospital can you get quality care for breast cancer?

“When a man has breast cancer, as the disease is rarer, we systematically test for the presence of one of the known genes (BRCA1/2, PALB2, CHEK2 and ATM). BRCA is more commonly known as the ‘Angelina Jolie’ gene, Kris explains. In women, it depends on family cases: if several women or men in the family have been affected by breast cancer, we do a genetic analysis.”

Like his brother, Kris is a carrier. This has an impact on control visits. “I am also at risk for prostate, skin and pancreatic cancer. I have check-ups in Leuven every year. For pancreatic cancer, it’s more complicated to say that prevention will be enough: this cancer progresses quickly, I could catch it in the meantime.”

But despite this sword of Damocles hanging over his head, Kris remains naturally optimistic. “I am aware of the risk of dying, but it can also happen by crossing the street or falling down the stairs!”

On the other hand, he testifies to try to break the taboo of breast cancer in men. “There are genetic cancers, but also cancers due to chance, in humans. If you have a cyst or a lump, you absolutely must consult. If you wait too long, it can be harmful, that’s what happened to my brother.”

Kris is talking about it today, as he talked about it openly at work when he was being treated. “I always say ‘Talk to your friends, your family, it can save lives’.”

October 7 is Male Breast Cancer Awareness Day. More info:

Breast cancer recognized as an occupational disease in France… and in Belgium?

Pink October and the “I miss you” campaign

Around 11,000 women are affected by breast cancer each year in Belgium. “This figure is incorrect, because breast cancer also impacts families, friends, relatives, colleagues…” says the Breast International Group (BIG), an academic network dedicated to breast cancer research, based in Brussels.

For almost 25 years, BIG has conducted clinical trials and research programs in breast cancer around the world. The OlympiA study, for example, showed that a targeted drug, Olaparib, can be used to treat early-stage breast cancer patients with inherited BRCA1/BRCA2 genetic mutations. (5% of patients with breast cancer and particularly common in young patients). The study showed that the treatment reduces the risk of recurrence and reduces the risk of death by 32%.

On the occasion of Pink October, BIG against breast cancer is launching its “I miss you” campaign intended to raise awareness and encourage fundraising.

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