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Patients & Visitors

Breast Unit

Breast Problems in Men

Dr Chris Wayte in consultation with patient
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Benign Breast Problems Breast Cancer in Men Surgery Further Information

Common Non-cancer (benign) Breast Problems in Men

Patient undergoing a Mammogram examination

Growth and tenderness in the breast area in men does not necessarily mean that you have cancer. It is more often due to a condition called gynaecomastia. This is caused by an increased amount of oestrogen (a female sex hormone) or a decreased amount of androgen (a male hormone) in the blood.

It usually effects teenage boys where firm, tender breast tissue grows under the nipples. It is usually caused by an imbalance of hormones during puberty and usually disappears without treatment within a couple of years.

It is sometimes associated with certain medications (prescription or over-the-counter); very occasionally due to anabolic steroids or using cannabis.

If the condition occurs in an adult man, he may need tests to find out the cause of the problem. The problem may be linked to the pituitary gland, the liver or the testicles and treatment may be necessary. Treatment options include medication to reduce the extra breast tissue or, in rare cases, surgery.

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Breast Cancer in Men

Dr Dorothy Goddard in consultation with patient

Although most breast cancers occur in women, about 0.5% - 1% of breast cancers occur in men.

Just as in women the outlook is much better, if the disease is detected earlier.

Any lump or recent breast plate enlargement needs to be taken seriously and be fully assessed in the breast clinic just as for a woman.

Some men may feel a certain embarrassment in entering what is predominantly a female area but it is important to emphasize the same need to be seen urgently as for women with breast plate nodules.

The diagnosis and treatment are exactly the same as for women, as it is the same disease. Up to 250 men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the UK – here at the RUH we normally treat two or three cases a year.

Men suspected of having a breast cancer will have the same diagnostic tests as women including mammogram, ultrasound, fine needle aspiration or core needle biopsy and are offered similar treatment.

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For most men, surgery is the first choice of treatment. However, men cannot usually have just the lump removed (lumpectomy). This is because the amount of breast tissue that most men have is so small, and because the tumour is often near or under the nipple.

Most men having surgery need to have all of the breast tissue and the nipple removed (a mastectomy).

Some or all of the lymph nodes under the arm are likely to be removed as well.

For more information on Breast Cancer in Men we suggest you visit the following sites:

Men with Breast Cancer  (PDF Document opens a new window)

MacMillan: Breast Cancer in Men (external site – opens a new window)  (external site – opens a new window)

Further Information about Cancer Surgery:

Wide Local Excision (Lumpectomy)

Needle Localised wide local excision

Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy

Duct Excision

Therapeutic Mammaplasty

Mastectomy without reconstruction

Reconstructive Surgery

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