There is a common misconception that only women get lumps in their breasts. Breast lumps in men is actually quite a common issue and should be evaluated by a doctor. This is attributed to an excessive growth in the tissue that makes up the breast area in men. They can experience actual breast enlargement, lumps in the nipple area, known as, gynecomastia. While there is a very low risk of breast cancer in men under the age of 60, there are risks. Breast lumps in men have many causes and the article below will walk you through these and how they are diagnosed and treated.

Breast Lumps in Men and Breast Cancer

Breast lumps in men are most often benign. The incidence of breast cancer in men usually goes up later in life. However, a breast lump in males of any age should always be evaluated by a doctor. The age groups that should watch for breast lumps are:

  • Young Men

During adolescence and younger years, there are a lot of hormones being produced by the body. A breast lump at this time is most likely benign, but should still be checked. They often go away with no treatment but may be removed by a surgeon if they are uncomfortable. If a lump is found in the breast, young boys are often checked for lumps in the testicle to rule out testicular cancer.

  • Men Over 40

Men over 40 are at higher risk for breast cancer and need to routinely have lumps checked with both a mammogram and a biopsy.

Causes of Breast Lumps in Men

Breast lumps in men can happen and if they don’t happen often, there is usually nothing to worry about. Just like women, lumps are usually a cyst filled with fluid.

The most common causes of breast lumps in men include:

  • Imbalanced hormones: Most often hormones have a lot to do with their appearance and they usually go away on their own. It is important to know that men have both testosterone and estrogen in their body. When these hormones are out of balance, men can have changes in their breast tissue.
  • Excessive estrogen due to overweight
  • Medical issues and certain medications that can imbalance hormone levels

Other causes include:

  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Using hormones
  • Use of medications including steroids, cimetidine, Risperdal, spironolactone, and metronidazole.
  • Marijuana use

Rarely, the following conditions can also cause breast lumps in men:

  • Thyroid disease
  • Tumors
  • Genetic defects

When to See a Doctor

You need to contact your doctor for an evaluation if you notice the following:

  • You notice that you have an inverted nipple
  • Your breast skin has wrinkles or dimples in it (like an orange peel)
  • You do a self-exam of your breast and find more than one lump
  • Discharge from the nipples
  • Bruising of the breast area
  • You are a male over the age of 40 and have a family history of cancer

Chances of Breast Lumps in Men Being Cancerous

The actual risk of breast cancer in men is quite low, but it can happen in rare cases. Of all the incidences of breast cancer in both men and women combined, men are less than one percent. However, the risk of breast cancer in men increases with age. It is most often found in men that are 60 to 70 years’ old.

It is important to understand that nipple soreness in men is rare, so breast pain or painful lumps in male breasts need to be checked. Even a painful lump is usually benign, but better to be safe.

The risk of breast cancer in men is increased if you have been exposed to high levels of radiation; you have a family history of breast cancer, and diseases that increase the estrogen levels in your body. One of these is cirrhosis, which is common in alcoholism.

Tests and Diagnosis

During your doctor visit, they will ask you these things: how long have you had a lump in your breast, if you have fevers or discharge, if you are having pain, if you had an injury to your breast, and what medications you are taking. Depending on your symptoms and history, the doctor may order the following tests:

  • A biopsy of the lump
  • A mammogram or ultrasound of the breast are to check if it is either a solid tumor or a fluid filled cyst sac
  • A fine needle aspiration of the fluid inside the cyst
  • Microscopic evaluation of the cells in nipple discharge
  • An MRI to check surrounding lymph nodes and tissues
  • Blood levels of your hormones

How to Deal with Breast Lumps in Men

What Can Be Done At Home?

If you have a painful breast lump, there are a few things you can do at home for relief. If the doctor finds a lump under male nipple areas, they will most likely recommend:

  • You may need to stop any supplements that alter hormones
  • Stop using marijuana
  • Use cold packs on the area
  • Use an over-the-counter pain reliever for pain

Treatment Options for Breast Lumps in Men

Breast lumps in men usually do not require any more treatment than stopping any substances that cause an imbalance in the hormones, taking more rest, applying pain relievers and using ice packs. Depending on the cause, further treatments may include:

  • Surgical removal of any tumors that are solid
  • Needle aspirations and drainage of cysts
  • If the fluid shows infection, you may be given antibiotics
  • Suspicious lumps may require further surgery and treatment

If a lump is cancerous, the doctor will discuss treatment options with you and refer you to a breast surgeon. The following are some of the treatments:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy

While breast cancer in men is extremely rare before the age of 60 or 70, the prognosis is the same as for women. Getting lumps checked and treated early on greatly reduces the risks.