Male Breast Problems

Gynaecomastia

Gynaecomastia is the commonest condition of the male breast, affecting 35% of men at some time in their life.

Gynaecomastia does not increase your risk of breast cancer.

Causes

Physiological (normal)

  • occurs in babies, adolescents & the elderly

  • usually resolves without treatment.

Abnormal

  • Medication related​​

  • Drug related

    • e.g. anabolic steroids​

  • Hormone imbalance​

Investigation

We need to exclude breast cancer and look for causes of abnormal gynaecomastia. This usually involves arranging an ultrasound and blood tests.

Treatment

No treatment is required in normal gynaecomastia, although sometimes medications can help.

Surgical excision of the breast tissue is an option if the gynaecomastia is painful or the appearance is distressing.

 

Breast Cancer

All men have a small amount of breast tissue, usually just behind the nipple and although breast cancer is uncommon in men, it is important for you to have any new change in the breast or nipple checked by your doctor.

Breast cancer makes up less than 1% of all cancers in men.

Risk factors​

Things that increase the chance of developing breast cancer

  • Age

  • Family history of breast cancer

    • especially any heretidary genetic mutations such as BRCA2 

Other factors which play a smaller part are:​

  • Hormonal imbalance

    • Undescended testes

    • Klinefelters syndrome 

    • Obesity & liver disease

Investigations and Treatments

  • The investigation and treatment of breast cancer in men is similar to in women (see 'Breast cancer')

  • Men will usually have a mastectomy rather than a lumpectomy

Support

Men diagnosed with breast cancer are often surprised, anxious, and angry. Many people are unaware that men can develop breast cancer and it is often considered a ‘women’s cancer’. This can leave many men feeling uncomfortable.

The Breast Cancer Network of Australia (BCNA) provides a useful online resource.