Clinic refused man breast cancer screening

April 8, 2010 at 7:25 PM
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MARION, N.C., April 8 (UPI) -- A North Carolina man whose parents both had breast cancer said he was refused breast cancer screening at a clinic that said it serves women only.

Scott Cunningham, 45, of Marion, was turned away from the Rutherford-Polk-McDowell Health District's National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program because it serves only females ages 40-60, ABC News reported Thursday.

"My chest is swollen, just like it started with my dad," Cunningham said.

He waited to see a doctor because he was laid off and didn't have health insurance, but said he finally sought help when his condition worsened.

Helen White, clinical nursing supervisor at the Rutherford-Polk-McDowell Health Department, said federal breast screening funds, which are from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are strictly for women, but said she would help Cunningham find medical care.

In 2009, the American Cancer Society reported almost 2,000 cases of male breast cancer in the United States. About 440 of those men are likely to die from the disease, officials said.

Male breast cancer has a strong genetic link, said Dr. Deborah Axelrod, director of the breast program at New York University Clinical Cancer Center.

"The telling factor (in Cunningham's case) is that his father had breast cancer, and that is the number one signal for us to be suspicious," Axelrod said. "(Screening) is designed for women, because only 1 percent of all breast cancers occur in men. They have to address what is common and it's not common for men. They could use the same equipment, but there are no screening guidelines for men," said Axelrod, who noted she is not critical of the CDC's women-only screening funds.

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