Breast Cancer in men

Initial reactions to getting a breast cancer diagnosis

Getting a diagnosis of cancer can be a frightening and shocking experience, but reactions vary from person to person. Here men discuss the impact a breast cancer diagnosis had on them.

A lot of the men described feeling very shocked when they first heard that they had cancer. It was common to feel a range of emotions at the same time, including shock, fear for the future, anger, denial and even relief at knowing what was wrong. Sometimes these reactions were immediate, sometimes they came later.
The shock of hearing the news could be all the more dramatic if men had otherwise been feeling well.
Some men described an even greater sense of shock when they were diagnosed because they didn’t know that it was even possible for men to get breast cancer (see ‘Men’s awareness of breast cancer in men before their diagnosis’).
Another factor which could affect men’s initial response was their past experiences of cancer in family and friends. If family members or friends had died from cancer, some men wondered whether they were going to die. RG said, “It’s almost as though the world stops.”
Dan talked about how he was already suspicious that something might be wrong when he was sitting in the breast clinic.  He described a mix of emotions but put on a brave face whilst he was getting his diagnosis.
The way that men were told their diagnosis could affect their initial reactions. Sometimes the medical staff were able to give some reassuring news which made it a little easier for men to cope with their emotions.
A few of the men did not feel any immediate sense of shock or fear. One or two felt relieved that they now knew what was wrong and were going to get the right treatment to help them get better. 

Others felt that they were numb or in denial when they initially heard the news and it was only later that the reality hit them. A few men just wanted to find out what needed to be done and to get on with the treatment.

Last reviewed June 2017.
Last updated October 2013.
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