Men Can Get Breast Cancer, Too

Scott DeMarr’s wife, Linda, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. While this finding was devasting news for him and their family, the devastating diagnosis of breast cancer in a woman over 50 years old isn’t uncommon.


One in eight U.S. women is diagnosed with breast cancer. It’s the second most diagnosed cancer in American women.


Six years after his wife’s diagnosis and recovery, however, Scott DeMarr found even more shocking news. He would become the rare one in 1,000 men to be diagnosed with breast cancer himself. The ordeal caught him by surprise.


“My wife noticed some blood on the bedsheets,” DeMarr says. “I didn’t know anything about it and so I reached for my right breast, and I squeezed it and I had a clear liquid followed by a bloody discharge.”


He initially thought nothing of it and assumed he had only cut himself up accidentally from working in his yard. When his wife asked about his condition two weeks later, the discovery was the same. It was during this moment that Demarr arranged an appointment with their family doctor.


He was later scheduled for a mammogram, where a mass was discovered, followed by a biopsy. Afterward, he was told it was cancerous and surgery would be needed. His reaction?


“Oh crap!” he says. “Guys don’t have breast cancer, where is this coming from?” he said to himself. “It rocked my world. I’m a man of faith, and it was like ‘what is this all about?’”


The revelation had certainly shaken him up as doctors had to now plan for a mastectomy. This particular life journey for DeMarr definitely came with a curveball, and although it was all unexpected, in some ways, he was already prepared for the process after witnessing the same challenge for his wife.


Because of early detection and breakthroughs in treatment, breast cancer is currently considered very treatable and survivable. There are more than four million breast cancer survivors in the United States. Since 2020, breast cancer deaths have dropped by a whopping 43%.


“Men are at lower risk,” says Michael Simon, M.D., MPH, Medical Oncologist and Co-leader of the Breast Cancer Multidisciplinary Team at Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute.


“Men have much less breast tissue. For men and women, we check lymph nodes under the arm to see if there’s a spread. Surgically is the same principle to remove the cancer. In terms of radiation for both men and women some of it varies depending on age and size of the patient.”


“There’s not enough men with breast cancer, or enough male specific data that includes men, so we tend to use the same principles as we treat female breast cancer.”


And as data will point out, there are not a lot of men with this particular cancer diagnosis. It’s something DeMarr understood very well as he began to search for support around a community of other men who had walked a similar path as himself.


“I had been trying to find a male to be able to talk to, another guy, and I couldn’t find anybody,” DeMarr says.


When he finally had searched everywhere online, he finally found two social media groups he sourced. He began to have questions about the experience and process, the emotional toll and feeling, as he wanted a sense of bond with other men who had gone through the same journey.


It was the group of 26 members he found in the United Kingdom; their support, along with his faith, gave him the boost he needed. His wife and two kids, too, are pulling for his surgery and a positive outcome.


“Surgery came and everything went good,” DeMarr explains. “I had the best outcomes you could wish. I also had the gene testing to make sure I wasn’t going to pass it on to my kids or grandkids and it came back negative.”


Dr. Simon says despite breast cancer being a low risk for men, it can still happen, as it did for Scott DeMarr. He says it’s important for people to begin to be open and share amongst family members about their health history as it helps to spark a proactive approach to understanding and discovering potential cancers early.


“Certainly, when patients are done with their treatment, both men and women are very relieved,” says Dr. Simon. “If we find it earlier, there’s less aggressive treatment. We like to share things in our family about our triumphs, …but if cancer can make an impact on what you do, and if there’s red flags of cancer in the family, you should have a talk with family members and certainly your doctor about genetic testing.”










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