Today we continue our discussion of men’s health and specifically men’s breast health. Yesterday we covered breast cancer in men. Today we move on to benign changes in male breast tissue. For men, there is no recommended monthly self breast exam and no annual breast exam. But occasionally men will feel a breast lump, fullness or experience tenderness. This is not uncommon and can occur at any age.
Today we cover the common benign findings in male breast tissue, as the vast majority of male breast complaints turn out to be benign, noncancerous changes. If a man experiences pain, tenderness, or a palpable abnormality they should consult their medical provider as the first step in the evaluation. This will guide whether imaging such as mammography, ultrasound or other modalities are necessary.
The commonest conditions we seen in males include gynecomastia, breast cysts, lipoma, and breast infection. Let’s tackle these one at a time:
Gynecomastia is the most common male complaint. It is swelling of the breast tissue in men, often associated with tenderness and a lump. While men at any age can get it, it is most common in the young men and very old. Gynecomastia can be caused by changes in hormone levels or as a side effect of certain medications. However, while it can be somewhat uncomfortable, it usually goes away without direct treatment.
Men can also develop breast cysts, particularly if they are under any hormone therapies. Cysts are a small lump or sac, usually filled with fluid. Again they may be resorbed into the body on their own, or, if necessary, removed by the doctor.
Lipoma of the breast is also benign. This is a painless mass of tissue under the skin that is usually soft and slightly moveable when pressure is applied.
Infection of the male breast can include things like warmth, pain, or flu-like symptoms. Infections of the breast are like any other infection in the body - some more serious than others, often self-healing. But it’s important to get checked by a doctor to determine the severity of the condition and if antibiotics or other such treatments may be recommended.
These are a few of the common things men occasionally experience in terms of their own breast health. Our purpose is not to say that symptoms of these things can be ignored. In fact, should any of these present themselves, it becomes especially important to see the doctor to confirm that an issue is benign.
Originally published 11/13/13 on mammographykc.com.