Men and Mammograms

Men and Mammograms

While we often think of mammograms as a purely female experience, there are several reasons a man may need to have breast imaging. And yes, it’s the same mammogram procedure, compression and all, that women undergo! Because male breast cancer is rare, screening for breast cancer with a yearly mammogram is not done. There are a couple of more common symptoms that cause men to come in for mammograms, and we’d like to address those.

Gynecomastia is a benign swelling of breast tissue in men. It can cause tenderness and/or lumps. It is actually quite common in the very young and the very old, although pre-teens and adult men can also develop gynecomastia. While it’s not something anyone wants to have, it’s a benign (noncancerous) condition and may go away without any treatment. There are several causes, including side effects to medications or hormonal imbalances such as decreases in testosterone.

Any persistent lump, swelling or change in a man’s breasts should prompt a visit to a physician, just as such changes would be handled in a woman. Lumps may be from breast tissue as described above, prominent fat or fatty tissue, benign (noncancerous) growths such as lipomas or lymph nodes, rarely in men from cysts (small fluid collections), and breast cancer which is seen in approximately 2,000 men each year in the United States.

Imaging of the male breast may start with a mammogram or a breast ultrasound, but the first step, as with any change with a female breast, is a careful physical exam by a dedicated health care provider. Rest assured that most findings, for men and women, will not mean cancer. Your mammography provider is accustomed to and comfortable imaging women and men, so don’t delay getting the care you need!



Image credit: Gynecomastia. Copyright Diagnostic Imaging Centers, P.A. 2013

Originally published 5/31/13 on