A story of male breast cancer and facts you should know

Men face similar challenges as women when it comes to breast cancer.


This summer Jim Daggett of Quincy will celebrate one year since his surgery for breast cancer .

Jim and Barb Daggett were married in 1969 and like other couples, have weathered many of life's storms together. But last year Jim discovered something while taking a shower that proved the strength of that love.

"I felt something that didn't, that wasn't normal," Jim said. "And I didn't say anything at first, but a couple of weeks later it didn't seem to be going away. So I said to Barb, my wife Barb, that I had something on my chest and she felt it and she immediately said, "Well you need to go to the doctor.""

After several tests and a mammogram Jim was told that he had breast cancer.

"I didn't have a very good couple of days," Jim said. "Um, it just, men don't get breast cancer."

"Both of us probably thought it was just gonna be a cyst or just a little benign tumor," Barb Dagett said. "So it was pretty tense and uh, very, very scary."

Quincy Medical Group surgeon Dr. Christian Zwick, who specializes in breast surgery, says that there shouldn't be a stigma around male breast cancer.

"There absolutely should not be one," Dr. Zwick said. "All men have some breast tissue under their nipple and that's normal. It can undergo changes as we go through puberty and through life andthe effects of the hormones that are in our body change, it can undergo changes."

After much thought and consideration he decided to have his left breast removed.

"A lot of things run through your head," Barb said. "You know, is it gonna, is it gonna be terrible? Is he gonna make it? Please Lord let this be ok! But then you calm down and you say, OK, let's do the surgery and see what happens."

You can clearly see the difference now in Jim's chest from the right side where the nipple is visible to the flatter left side where the breast was removed.

Almost a year later Jim is learning to adjust to the change in his body.

He says the prayers and love of friends, family and especially his wife Barb are helping him get through this experience.

It all started with love more than 40 years ago for Jim and Barb Daggett.

The same love that is helping face this new challenge together.


QMG surgeon Dr. Christian Zwick says that typically only one out of 100 diagnosed breast cancers are in men.

"What happens is the cells that are in the breast, whether they be in the ducts or the lobules of the breast can undergo the same changes that tumors go through in any cancer," Dr. Zwick said. "So these ducts or lobules have changes, they become cancerous and they grow and they can metastasize just like a breast cancer in a lady."

Jim's first sign of trouble was a lump in his breast that would not go away.

Dr. Zwick specializes in breast surgery and says men and women both need to pay attention to changes in their bodies.

"The most typical age group that is affected by this is men in their 60s and 70s," Dr. Zwick said. "That's a little bit older than the typical females that are affected with this. But they may notice a change there. They may sort of put it off to just getting older."

Jim was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Breast Carcinoma .

"The most common type of breast cancer for men and women is invasive ductal carcinoma," Dr. Zwick said. "It means it comes from the ducts of the breast. But the percentage of that, that occurs in men is much higher."

Jim decided against reconstructive surgery when he had his breast removed.

"A lot of times I'll find myself pulling my shirt back over it," Jim said. "It just doesn't fit the way it used to fit you know."

"Some men if they have a little extra weight may feel uneven after they have one breast removed," Dr. Zwick said. "There's certainly reconstruction potential they could have as far as an implant or expandable device. Or they could even things out by having maybe a prophylactic mastectomy on the other side so that they don't feel uneven."

Dr. Zwick wants men to know that they don't need to be afraid of a breast cancer diagnosis.

"The reason why people are doing so well with a diagnosis of breast cancer is that's being treated aggressively and it's being treated very well in this area," Dr. Zwick said. "And the recurrence rate is very low. The survival rate is very good."

Please share your stories of breast cancer below in the comments section. We'd love to hear from you.


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