MAYWOOD, Ill. — When Cedric Skillom’s mother, Lynda, 55, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer, he was devastated by the news, but he never imagined that the largest cancer killer of women would strike his own health.
While his mother was undergoing treatment at Loyola University Health System, she learned that she carried the breast cancer gene BRCA2. Doctors advised this 29-year-old father of two be tested and found that he also carried the gene placing him at risk for the disease. Doctors later identified precancerous tissue in his chest and performed a double mastectomy.
“Most men don’t fear that this disease will impact their own bodies,” Lynda said. “However, given our genetic predisposition to breast cancer, my son fortunately knew enough to get screened and treated early.”
Slightly less than 2,000 new cases of male breast cancer are diagnosed each year in the U.S., according to Susan G. Komen for the Cure®. In 2005, the overall incidence of breast cancer in men was 1.2 per 100,000, compared to 122 per 100,000 in women. Differences in death rates from breast cancer were equally wide at 0.3 per 100,000 in men and 24 per 100,000 in women. The BRCA2 gene seems to be responsible for about 10 percent of breast cancer cases in men, according to the American Cancer Society. The lifetime breast cancer risk for men who carry BRCA2 is about 5 to 10 percent, which is much higher than in those who do not have the gene.
“While breast cancer is rare in men, those who carry the BRCA2 gene should know that this puts them at greater risk for the disease,” said oncologist and hematologist Patricia Robinson, MD, who treated Lynda at Loyola. “A double mastectomy is often the best option for long-term prognosis for these patients.”
Like her son, Lynda underwent a double mastectomy to prevent a recurrence of the disease. While she was unhappy at the thought of losing her breasts, she knew that this might add years to her life and give her more time with her loved ones. Skillom moved forward with the double mastectomy and was encouraged with her decision to do so when she learned that cancer remained in the tissue that had been removed.
“The physicians, nurses and staff at Loyola could not have treated me better during my treatment,” Lynda said. “They taught me the importance of making your health and the health of your family a priority.”
Lynda and Cedric are now cancer free and will celebrate their health together this Mother’s Day.
Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, Loyola University Health System is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and 25 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus, Loyola University Hospital, is a 561-licensed-bed facility. It houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children’s Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola’s Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus in Melrose Park includes the 264-bed community hospital, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness and the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Care Center.