Peter's breast cancer experience

Peter shares his experience of being diagnosed with male breast cancer, and encourages all men to check their breasts regularly.

“Getting an early diagnosis is absolutely key for increasing your chances of survival, so I recommend to all my male friends that whilst they are checking for testicular cancer, it only takes another few seconds to check your breasts.”


Peter thought it was unusual when he spotted a small, pea-sized lump under his nipple, but dismissed it as nothing serious. However, after visiting his GP and then being referred for tests, he was told that he in fact had early-stage breast cancer. Here, we speak to Peter about his experience with cancer and how he coped with undergoing treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Peter's story

It was December 2019 when Peter, a successful leadership development consultant, spotted a lump under his nipple whilst in the shower. Six weeks after he had noticed it, his wife encouraged him to visit his GP and have it checked. At the GP surgery the word 'cancer' was mentioned – which completely shocked him. He had no family history of breast cancer, and as a man, hadn't considered it as a possibility. Peter was referred by his GP for some further tests. Ever the optimist, he pushed it to the back of his mind – it still felt extremely unlikely it would be anything serious. However, a week after undergoing a mammogram and biopsy, he was told he has early-stage breast cancer and was referred for a mastectomy.

A condition associated with femininity 

Talking about the diagnosis and subsequent mastectomy, Peter said: "It was an odd time and difficult to comprehend as the relationship between a man and his breasts is very different from a woman and hers. It was bit odd having a procedure which is usually associated with women, like a woman having a vasectomy. All the terms associated with this disease such as mastectomy, lymphatic system, blocker, I think of as feminine."

Despite the mastectomy being a success, his biopsy results showed that the cancer was also present in Peter's lymph nodes, meaning further surgery would be needed, something which concerned him as COVID-19 was taking hold. Peter said: "Now the reality had hit me that this could be more serious than I initially thought. Luckily, I was able to have another swift surgery soon after to remove the remaining cancer and it was from here I was referred to The Christie Private Care."

Treatment from a leader in male breast cancer

At The Christie Private Care, part of HCA Healthcare UK, Peter was seen by Dr Abbasi Chittalia, Consultant Clinical Oncologist, who talked him through his chemotherapy and radiotherapy plan. Dr Chittalia has been an oncologist for over 15 years and is part of the breast cancer team at The Christie. Peter felt reassured by Dr Chittalia's vast knowledge and previous experience with male breast cancer and knew that he was the best consultant to guide him through his treatment.

Dr Chittalia explained that, while Peter's surgery had eliminated the cancer, chemotherapy would be required to prevent it from returning. He would need to undergo three weekly cycles of chemotherapy over the course of nine weeks - all of it taking place during lockdown.

Concerned that he was unable to have anyone present during his appointments, Peter was hugely relieved to be told his wife could join him virtually for his first appointment. Peter said: "I couldn't speak more highly of my care at The Christie Private Care. Dr Chittalia gave me great confidence that although the chemotherapy would be tough, it's what I needed to do in order to prevent the chances of recurrence."

"My breast clinical nurse specialist Katie Waller was also a huge help through the whole process. During our weekly calls, I could ask her anything and with infinite patience she would explain what is happening, why it's happening, and that this is perfectly normal. In what could have been an extremely tumultuous time, I felt secure in the knowledge I was in safe hands."

Access to the very best care during difficult times

Looking back at the last few months, Peter cannot believe that he was able to have such a speedy and thorough cancer treatment plan throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, after responding well to another round of chemotherapy and then radiotherapy - the final stages of his treatment plan, he remains as optimistic as ever.

Peter said: "Finding out that I had breast cancer was surprisingly only one of the toughest things that has happened this year. I can't thank The Christie Private Care enough for the thorough high level of care they have provided me during this time. I had a check-up in January and Dr Chittalia was happy with how I have responded to the treatment, and that my recovery in on track. My message to my male friends and family - remember to regularly check their breasts and not to be naïve in the thought that breast cancer doesn't affect males."

He added: "Getting an early diagnosis is absolutely key for increasing your chances of survival, so I recommend to all my male friends that whilst they are checking for testicular cancer, it only takes another few seconds to check your breasts. Those few seconds could be the difference between life and death."
Learn more about our breast cancer services

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.