Doctors urge "rare disease" screenings for men

Every woman knows how difficult it can be to get a man to get a checkup.

Now, suggesting to him that he be examined for breast cancer, thyroid cancer, or lupus might make him laugh out loud! After all, those are diseases women deal with. Granted, these illnesses are not common in men, but they can and do occur.

Like any disease, if you have a family history of it, you're more likely to contract it. Male or female. That's why doctors{} stress the risk factors and importance of early detection for everyone.

Dr. Clint Holladay, a radiation oncologist at Princeton Baptist Medical Center rarely sees a man diagnosed with breast cancer. Rarely doesn't mean never.

"They're very rare, but if we see them and detect them early enough, like most cancers, we can cure them," Holladay says. "We see one every year or so. It's very rare cancer, like one percent of all breast cancers happen in men. But we do see it."Holladay says common causes of male breast cancer are genetic disposition, exposure to radiation and estrogen, as well as obesity. "The more fat, the more estrogen you tend to have," says Holladay. Men seldom if ever check for lumps or get a screening, so when a cancerous cell forms, it can quickly spread. Dr. Holladay explains, "Males usually don't know that you have it until you feel it, what happens is you have mass underneath the nipple, or close to the nipple. So men, usually don't detect it until its about 2 1/2 centimeters or an inch."

He adds, "Plus, there's not a lot of breast tissue, so you have skin and muscle which are close to that lesion so they can invade those structures and spread throughout the body early."Thyroid disease, like breast cancer is rare for men. Dr. Rodrigo Valderrama, an endocrinologist says while thyroid disease is associated with women, men also are at risk.

"Compared to a woman, it's about four to five times less frequent in men," says Valderrama. "For every ten cases of thyroid disease, about eight are women. But with the volume and number of patients, it's kind of a common disease in men as well."Dr. Valderrama says the disease typically shows up in males over the age of fifty and is often detected indirectly.

Due to advanced treatment, the disease has a very low mortality rate. Still, Valderrama encourages men to look for the symptoms. Valderrama says, "Fatigue, tiredness, difficulty doing exercise, weight changes, changes in the heart rate, bowel movements, erectile dysfunction, that could be cause by hyperthyroidism."While a disease may seem rare for men, doctors say it's important to be proactive and not rule out any possibilities. "If you see something, it's important you go to your doctor at least to get checked out," says Holladay.