Doctor: Men should get mammograms, screened for breast cancer
Mammograms are not routinely offered to men. However, a Fort Pierce doctor recommends screening mammography as men with a genetic mutation have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
"It's a silent killer," Dr. Jason Radecke said. "Men are not aware at all."
Radecke is a surgeon at HCA Florida Lawnwood Hospital in Fort Pierce. He has relatives who have had breast cancer.
"Unfortunately it was my uncle. His name's David, my father's brother," Radecke said. "Unfortunately, when he got diagnosed, it ended up being stage 4 breast cancer."
When his uncle passed, his family started testing for mutations of the BRCA gene, which increase someone's risk of getting cancer. They learned the gene runs in the family.
"We have the BRCA 2 gene in my family," Radecke said.
Specifically, the men in the family are at a higher risk for cancers associated with the gene, including breast cancer, prostate cancer or pancreatic cancer.
Radecke's cousin and other family member tested positive for the gene.
"I have a twin brother who's positive. That led my father to get tested and he was positive," he said.
All immediate family members have the gene.
"And all men," Radecke added. "Thankfully my sister turned out to be negative."
His father, like his uncle, was ultimately diagnosed with cancer and passed away.
"So, for my father unfortunately who passed just this last December. It was pancreatic cancer," Radecke said.
His cousins and brother have had mastectomies to lower their risk and will undergo regular screening.
"A man getting a mammogram is a real thing," Radecke said.
Radecke also performed surgery on cancer patients trying to raise awareness for men with hopes of encouraging testing to catch cancer early. He said the BRCA gene mutation isn't just passed from women to daughters, but also fathers and mothers can pass the gene to both sons and daughters.
Men's tumors even tend to be larger and found at a later stage. Knowing this, he hopes more men might also get genetic tests even if a mother and grandmother get breast cancer.
"Women have sons and these sons need to be tested," Radecke said.
Believe it or not, Radecke is still the holdout of the family.
"I have yet to be tested," he said.
Radecke said he is waiting until his children are older as he worries a positive test could spike his life insurance.
"I have promised my entire family that when my daughter turns 18 we will celebrate by me getting my genetic testing," he said.
Holding on to hope a little longer that his three children could be spared from sharing this family trait.
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