Inverted Nipple Was Clue to Male Breast Cancer

By Lizette Robles - October 13, 2021

Growing up, Bob Zvonchenko had two aunts who were diagnosed with breast cancer. But he never imagined that he himself would face the disease.

Breast cancer survivor Bob Zvonchenko attends a Tampa Bay Lightning game
Breast cancer survivor Bob Zvonchenko attends a Tampa Bay Lightning game

“The diagnosis came very early,” Zvonchenko said. “It was initially discovered after an ultrasound of my left breast due to some concerns about the sudden appearance of a barely noticeable inverted nipple. I never experienced any pain or other symptoms, so the diagnosis was surprising.”

The then 64-year-old had never faced any major health issues. When the ultrasound revealed the tiny mass, Zvonchenko was referred to Moffitt Cancer Center for a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis, ER+/PR+ HER2 breast cancer.

“We met with Dr. John Kiluk who recommended a mastectomy to remove the cancer. He was great; very knowledgeable and empathetic,” Zvonchenko said.

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is most common in women, but men can get breast cancer too. For men, the lifetime risk of getting breast cancer is about 1 in 833. Though male breast cancer is rare, the disease can occur at any age, but it is more prevalent in older men.

Breast cancer symptoms vary based on the specific disease type, but male breast cancer most often presents as a hard lump. Other symptoms may include:

  • Nipple pain
  • Inverted nipple
  • Nipple discharge
  • Sores on or near the nipple
  • Enlarged lymph nodes under the arm
Dr. John Kiluk, surgical oncologist
Dr. John Kiluk, surgical oncologist

“The patient is their best doctor,” said Kiluk. “All patients need to be aware of their bodies and alert medical professionals for any changes. The earlier we can diagnose the problem, the less a patient has to go through and the better the outcome.”

After surgery and several rounds of chemotherapy, Zvonchenko is finally back to doing what he loves most, boating in the Gulf.

“My advice to other men facing a cancer diagnosis is to never dismiss any subtle signs that something in your body may be changing,” Zvonchenko said. “Catching this cancer so quickly was the key to quickly resolving the issue and getting back to fishing!”

Bob Zvonchenko doing what he loves most, boating in the Gulf
Bob Zvonchenko doing what he loves most, boating in the Gulf

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Lizette Robles Community Relations & Digital Media Manager More Articles

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