Throughout October, women are offered free mammograms in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. But when Donald Mudd of Florida tried to get one, he was repeatedly turned away — even though a doctor recommended the cancer screening to check a lump in his breast.
Mudd’s painful lump has grown to the size of a golf ball. Without health insurance, Mudd turned to charitable organizations offering free mammograms for women. When he called, he says he was denied due to his gender. He contacted six organizations; all gave him the same response.
"I got transferred a number of times with the same result ... that males don't qualify for the mammogram cancer screening," Mudd said. “I was a little bit in shock to even find out that men could have breast cancer, and then I find out that because of my gender those programs are not available to men."
Despite the myth that breast cancer only affects women, The American Cancer Society reports that about 2,240 men will be diagnosed in 2013. About 410 men will die from the disease this year.
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Because women are about 100 times more likely to get breast cancer than men, males are often overlooked in breast-cancer awareness programs. Sometimes stigma is attached to male breast cancer because it is considered a “woman’s disease.”
According to Breast Health Navigator Kathy Shepard, it is not unusual for men to have difficulty receiving help for breast cancer. She said, "The majority of the people who are screened and treated for breast cancer are women but there are more and more men who have breast cancer issues, and the reality is, not too many people are aware of that."
Eventually, Mudd did get his appointment. He plans to get his mammogram tomorrow at the Virginia B. Andes Volunteer Clinic in Port Charlotte, which receives funding from the Susan G. Komen Foundation, a major financial supporter of breast cancer research.