Man diagnosed with breast cancer after finding a ‘Polo mint’-like lump

This Morning: Breast cancer examination

A former nurse was diagnosed with a “rare” case of male breast cancer after noticing an unusual lump on his chest. Mark Nock, now 61, discovered the bump after a colleague knocked a bowl of water on his uniform. Having dried himself off in a staff toilet he then noticed a lump like a “huge Polo mint” under his right nipple.

Mark, from Birmingham, first noticed the unusual lump in his chest in May 2018.

He spoke with a doctor who confirmed it was suspicious and referred Mark for a mammogram and biopsy.

Mark’s fears were confirmed when he received a diagnosis of stage two breast cancer.

“I found the lump in May 2018 after a nurse knocked a bowl of water over my tunic as I went to do a bed bath,” he explained.

“As I dried the water off, I felt a lump on my chest and went into the staff toilet and found a big lump like a huge Polo mint under my right nipple.”

To treat the tumour, he underwent a full mastectomy and was prescribed a type of hormone therapy which helps control breast cancer by stopping oestrogen binding to the breast cancer cells.

However, the drug brought on menopause-like symptoms, including hot flushes, severe dizzy spells which would leave him unable to stand, and morning sickness.

His symptoms were so severe he took early retirement to focus on his recovery.

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“Breast cancer is very rare in men – the treatments are the same, and I was prescribed Tamoxifen,” he said.

“These drugs have barely been tested on men and are designed for women’s hormone balance, so I was a bit of a lab rat.

“I had symptoms of morning sickness and menopause, I would be red hot one moment and freezing cold the next, sweat would pour off me onto the floor.

“I would get severe giddy spells in a hot environment and fall over – the spells were very fast and severe, it was like being so drunk you can’t walk.

“I had a giddy spell so severe that they had to practically carry me to the corridor, and it took two hours before I could walk in a straight line – I called up and resigned that day.”

According to the NHS, men can experience menopause-like symptoms in middle age.

However these are not usually related to hormones and can be as a result of personal or lifestyle issues.

It is unhelpful to use the term “male menopause”, the health service added.

Now, thankfully Mark is cancer-free – but is using his experience to encourage men and women to check themselves for breast cancer.

He said: “The moment I felt that lump I knew what it was, I can’t explain it, I just knew.

“I thought it would be a good idea to raise awareness of male breast cancer, it’s possible to save lives with a conversation.”

Symptoms of breast cancer among men can include:

  • A lump in the breast – this is usually hard, painless and does not move around within the breast
  • The nipple turning inwards
  • Fluid oozing from the nipple (nipple discharge), which may be streaked with blood
  • A sore or rash around the nipple that does not go away
  • The nipple or surrounding skin becoming hard, red or swollen
  • Small bumps in the armpit (swollen glands).

If you are concerned that you could have breast cancer you should speak to your GP.

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