Nick Greiner: I had mastectomy after breast cancer diagnosis

In In The News by Barbara Jacoby

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Former New South Wales premier praised for raising men’s awareness by speaking out

Cancer Council Australia has called for greater awareness of breast cancer in men, following Nick Greiner’s revelation that he was recently diagnosed.

The former New South Wales premier told the Australian Financial Review how a series of tests had revealed he had breast cancer. But Greiner added that when his doctor first suggested he have a mammogram, he “managed to ignore that piece of advice”.

The chief executive of Cancer Council Australia, Professor Ian Olver, said men who noticed changes to their breasts or nipples should act quickly and be tested.

“There’s a pretty high cure rate for men if they present early. The problem is that men don’t believe they can get breast cancer,” he said.

“So the first message is ‘yes, you can get breast cancer’, and the second message is that if you see blood or you feel a lump get it checked out as soon as you can. Don’t ignore a change.”

Olver praised the former premier for speaking out and said it would help educate men about the risks.

“Someone as prominent as Nick coming out and talking about it helps raise awareness immeasurably,” he said.

Greiner discovered the cancer after finding a red dot on his shirt, and said talking about his cancer helped him through the difficult period.

“I tend to stand back from myself,” he told the AFR. “Frankly, my reaction was to carry on with work. There was no pain and no preoccupation. I kept wondering when it would hit me.

“I think it helped by telling my family and, when I knew I was going to have surgery, telling others.”

Greiner had a mastectomy to remove the cancer and the operation was successful.

Rates of breast cancer in men are far lower than in women and amount to less than 1% of all breast cancer diagnoses in Australia, according to Cancer Council NSW. About 13,000 women are diagnosed each year and about 100 men.