William Steele, from Ayr, faced a particular problem after being diagnosed with breast cancer: People didn’t believe him. “One of the abiding themes of having breast cancer and being a man was the amazement of so many people when I told them,” he says. “It was as if I were something different to all other men.

“This took its toll, particularly when trying to explain my circumstances to my colleagues or friends – it wasn’t easy.”

In fact around 390 men in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, although it is around 100 times less common in men than in women.

Mr Steele, who is 63, says this was only the start of the mental pressure his illness put on him. “I was affected by anxiety at various stages of my cancer, including pre- and post-diagnosis”. The sense of isolation is hard to understand for those who have not been through it, he explains.

“After treatment was over, I did feel, strangely, a certain loss when I didn’t have to go to hospitals and doctors so often. Once your cancer treatment finishes, everything finishes – you feel lost and abandoned.”

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Half of all the patients spoken to by the Mental Health Foundation said they recognised the “false summit” effect of completing treatment only to suffer emotional problems afterwards. “The consequences of the treatment were horrific,” Mr Steele says. “Many people assume that once the cancer is treated things go back to what they were. But many people live with the consequences of the treatment which are sometimes huge.”

Although he got help coping with the emotional impact, that was only because he sought it out. “One-to-one counselling services provided by a local charity certainly did help to overcome the trauma that I had been through but I had to access that service myself. Only years later was I offered access to psychologists in Ayrshire and Arran.

“People have different emotional support needs at different times and we need to do more to help people at every stage of cancer”.