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Sharp Health News

Male breast cancer patient update: one year later

Nov. 4, 2016

Male breast cancer survivor update

Breast cancer patient David Smyle enjoys a Los Angeles Angels spring training game with his family.

If there were a playbook for how a man can tackle and defeat cancer, David Smyle’s name would likely be associated with it. The male breast cancer survivor is approaching a year since his diagnosis and maintains an optimistic attitude about his future. He’s not looking back.

The La Mesa resident was initially diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer, but after surgery his doctors discovered the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes, so the diagnosis was upgraded to stage 3. Following surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, his latest scans in August turned up negative.

“This puts me at a high risk for recurring cancer,” he says. Despite those odds, he views this experience as “a bump in the road” and prefers to dwell on hope and possibility.

“I’m pretty much the same person,” he says. “I feel fortunate. Considering that some others have had to deal with more serious health issues, I feel like I don’t have anything to complain about.”

Other than periodic physical checkups, life for the commercial real estate and mortgage broker is pretty status quo. He plays tennis and exercises regularly at the gym. An avid baseball fan, he and his wife and daughter traveled to Phoenix earlier this year to watch the Los Angeles Angels’ spring training games. He’s taken in some high-thrills NASCAR races, and visited Los Angeles to see country music star Keith Urban.

The support of his physician Dr. David Bodkin, a board-certified oncologist/hematologist affiliated with Sharp Grossmont Hospital, along with family and friends were paramount during his treatment and recovery. David will continue to self-monitor for unusual lumps or pain, and will get blood tests every three months.

Although male breast cancer is rare — less than 1 percent of all breast cancer cases develop in men, and only 1 in 1,000 men will ever be diagnosed with breast cancer — men carry a higher mortality rate than women do. This is primarily due to less awareness among men, and because they are less likely to assume a lump is breast cancer, which can cause a delay in seeking treatment.

According to Dr. Bodkin, men don’t have screening mammograms, so he urges men to do breast self-exams just like women to catch the disease early. Risk factors for breast cancer in men include aging; radiation exposure; heavy alcohol consumption; obesity; testicular disease or surgical removal; and hormonal therapy for prostate cancer. Family history and the BRCA2 gene are also risk factors.

What is David’s advice for anyone who is going through a similar ordeal? “Stay positive. Look at it as a challenge and take the attitude that you’ll beat it.”

For the news media: To talk with David Smyle about his breast cancer journey for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at

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