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What is gynecomastia? — Gynecomastia is the medical term for when boys or men develop breasts. Some growth of the breasts is normal when boys go through puberty and as men get older. But in some cases, this can be embarrassing and even painful. Luckily, it often goes away on its own. If it doesn't go away, or if the condition is very uncomfortable, there are treatments that can help.
What are the symptoms of male breast development? — Boys and men who develop breasts can have growth in both breasts or just one. Sometimes the breasts are tender (hurt when they are touched).
Should I see a doctor or nurse? — See a doctor or nurse if your breast or breasts:
Are growing very fast
Have grown a lot (more than 2 to 3 inches of tissue under the nipple)
Are very painful
Worry or embarrass you a lot
Have grown and you also have a lump on one of your testes, or you think you might have another illness
You should also see a doctor if you are an adult man and you have a lump in your breast that is off to the side instead of under the nipple. This could be a sign of breast cancer. It is very rare, but men can sometimes get breast cancer.
Is there a test for male breast development? — Yes and no. If you are male and have what look like breasts, your doctor or nurse will feel them to check if what you have is really breast tissue or if it is fat, which is not the same thing. Doctors and nurses can usually tell the difference just by feeling the breasts (figure 1). But sometimes they need to order a special kind of X-ray of the breast called a mammogram. Doctors and nurses sometimes also order blood tests to check hormone levels in boys and men who develop breasts.
How is male breast development treated? — There are a number of treatments. But treatment is often not needed. The one that's right for you will depend on the cause of your condition, how long it has lasted, how severe it is, and how much it hurts or bothers you.
In teenage boys, breast development is usually caused by normal hormone changes that happen at that age. In these cases, breasts usually go away on their own without treatment. Still, doctors sometimes give a medicine called tamoxifen to boys with very large or painful breasts.
In adult men, breast development can be caused by a health problem or by a drug the man takes. In these cases, treating the health problem or stopping the drug usually makes the breasts go away. But if the doctor can't figure out the cause of breast development, he or she might prescribe a medicine called tamoxifen.
In adult men whose breasts are large and have been there for more than a year, medicine does not usually help. These men can instead have surgery to reduce the size of their breasts.
Men with prostate cancer whose cancer is treated with certain types of hormone therapy sometimes develop breasts. They can take tamoxifen or have radiation treatment before getting the hormone therapy to reduce the chances that this will happen.
All topics are updated as new evidence becomes available and our peer review process is complete.
This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Mar 30, 2020.
Topic 16107 Version 7.0
Release: 28.2.2 - C28.105
© 2020 UpToDate, Inc. and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.

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