EastEnders: Maisie Smith on her exit and possible return
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EastEnders is known for bringing awareness to all kinds of illnesses and situations, and one current plotline is exploring male breast cancer. Stuart (played by Ricky Champ) was told he had the condition a few weeks ago but has refused to tell his wife Rainie Highway (Tanya Franks) about his diagnosis. Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, radiation oncologist doctor Alexandra Haas discussed the illness, which is more common and more widely associated with women. Due to the lack of awareness of male breast cancer, explained by doctor Haas, could Stuart in the BBC soap end up leaving in order to avoid the reality of his condition?
When he first found out he had breast cancer, Stuart stormed out of the hospital after yelling at the doctor.
The Walford undertaker later began drinking in The Vic to drown his sorrows and was helped out by Sonia (Natalie Cassidy) when Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) told him he had to leave.
A devastated Stuart ended up confiding in Sonia about his diagnosis.
After she continued to check up on him, Rainie became suspicious about her husband, but he ended up telling her it was Sonia who has cancer.
As a radiation oncologist at the Proton Therapy Center in Prague, Czech Republic, doctor Haas is an expert on the subject.
She explained: “I wouldn’t say there is a stigma around breast cancer in men, but there is certainly a lack of awareness.
“Breast cancer is very common in women but is much rarer in men.
“According to Cancer Research UK, only about one per cent of all breast cancers in the UK are in males.
“Because male breast cancer is rare, the treatment recommendations are typically extrapolated from data available from clinical trials enrolling female patients.”
The health expert continued: “Most of the diagnosed cases are advanced stage ductal invasive carcinomas, express hormone receptors in the great majority.
“They present usually as a painless retro areolar mass that requires triple assessment.
“The diagnosis needs a high index of suspicion primarily due to the unawareness of such a cancer in males.
“The treatment depends on the stage of disease (early/metastatic) and includes four main treatment modalities: surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and endocrine therapy.”
Talking about how chances of recovery from breast cancer differ between men and women, the doctor commented: “The chances of recovery for male breast cancer depend on how soon the cancer is detected.
“Women tend to be much more aware of symptoms and are rightly encouraged to monitor any changes in the breast.
“Men are less aware of the symptoms and as such may delay seeking medical attention.
“Nipple retraction and the palpation of a retro areolar mass is a common physical examination finding and may be the first clinical manifestation of male breast cancer.
“Seeking medical advice for any changes in the body is nothing to be ashamed of.
“If you notice anything you are unsure of, call your GP. If detected early, breast cancer in men is treatable.”
She continued: “Health and cancer can be difficult for some people to talk about. It is a very personal issue and how open you are very much varies from person to person.
“Some people feel as if they can’t speak to their friends and family as they don’t want to worry them.
“I think it’s important for people to seek help from their support network.
“Often when people start to open up, they find people share their own experiences which can provide comfort and reassurance.”
With Stuart seeming too overwhelmed or ashamed to confront what he is going through, it seems likely he may decide to run from his problems.
In order to escape treatment and face telling his wife the truth, the EastEnders resident might believe it is easier to disappear.
Will Sonia be able to convince her friend to finally accept his diagnosis?
If his troubles go unnoticed, he might quietly leave before anybody notices – will he face up to his illness and receive the treatment he needs?
EastEnders continues on Monday at 8pm on BBC One.
For support and information, visit https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/.
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