SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month when well-deserved focus is placed on women’s breast cancer. But it’s important to know that men can also get the disease.

While male breast cancer cases are far less common than women, men have much lower survival rates. One of the lucky ones is a Madisonville, Lackawanna County man who, thanks to an accidental discovery, was able to share his survivor story with Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller.

70-year-old Larry Mekic carries around a postcard of a modified dirt car. But the photo is more than a way to show what his grandson competitively races. It’s a personal reminder of a slip-up in April 2018 that actually helped save Mr. Mekic’s life.

“I was washing a part on a race car and I accidentally sprayed my chest,” Mr. Mekic said.

The carburetor cleaner caused a burning sensation which Mr. Mekic hurried to clean-off.

“I lifted my t-shirt to wipe my chest with a paper towel. I found a lump. And it turned out to be stage 3 breast cancer,” Mr. Mekic said.

Geisinger Associate Radiologist John Farrell, MD said, “Even though he felt a lump on one side, there was actually an early cancerous lesion on the other side.”

Mr. Mekic became part of a very small statistic: one of the one percent of male breast cancer cases. He said, “I was devastated. You know if they had told me you had colon cancer, well, men get colon cancer. But breast cancer? Ha, not many.”

Mr. Mekic was determined to beat his breast cancer. Within a month, he underwent a double mastectomy followed by 18 weeks of chemotherapy.

“I come out the other end cancer-free,” he said.

Dr. Farrell added, “I’m glad that he presented when he did. He did the right thing. He noticed something was wrong. He called his doctor, came in to see us and we took care of him which is what any man should do if they notice something, notice a change in their breast health.”

Mr. Mekic is now calling on men of all ages to be more vigilant when it comes to their breast health.

“You actually have to feel with your hands and if you catch it, it can be cured. The biggest thing is men don’t catch it and they don’t survive.”

An estimated 2,500 men in the U.S. will be diagnosed this year with breast cancer. Men are encouraged to do a self exam once a month. It’s also important to note that men can also carry the BRCA gene.

Doctors say these men should see a clinician one to two times a year.