Youngest male breast cancer victim recovers
Published 31/07/2009 | 05:06
The youngest man in the world to be diagnosed with breast cancer was told his treatment has contained the disease, he has said.
At 24, Nicky Avery, now 27, was told by doctors he was the youngest man in the world known to have the illness.
After a haul of intensive therapies, Mr Avery has been told by his doctors the results of a scan show his treatment has been successful — though he will have to have a bone infusion every three weeks to keep him alive.
Now he wants to press on with his campaign to have the male form of breast cancer renamed chest cancer to encourage men to have themselves checked.
“If you say breast cancer to a man they take a step back, it is so taboo,” he said. “But if we could change the terminology, men would feel more comfortable about going to the doctors.
“There was one man who had breast cancer for five years but didn't tell anybody about it because he was so ashamed.
“Men haven't got breasts, they have got chests.”
He added: “If I could save just one life trying to do this, so much the better.”
A Department of Health spokesman said: “We understand that having a disease that largely affects women can cause embarrassment to male patients. However, the term breast cancer is anatomically correct and is the agreed terminology internationally.”
Mr Avery, from Southchurch, in Southend, Essex, was diagnosed with the disease three years ago. He said he was “shocked” at the diagnosis and at the time he didn't believe that men could get breast cancer.
He said: “I saw my surgeon who said they sent my biopsy off to a lab without labelling it and the scientists thought I was a 64-year-old woman.”
After the original cancer was cleared up he then developed secondary breast cancer in the bones of his head and his arm. The doctors told him they were “baffled” by the way the cancer had spread.
Since then Mr Avery, who used to work as a wood labourer building log cabins, has undergone a radical mastectomy, intensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
He has been told his secondary cancer could flare up at any time. He has also been told he has to have a bone infusion every three weeks to keep him alive.
“What the bone fusion does is it strengthens the holes in my bones like medical poly-filler,” he said.
“It feels like having a couple of rounds with Mike Tyson.
“I know it is for the rest of my life. It is a horrible feeling but is a small price to pay,” Mr Avery added.