Gynecomastia is the enlargement of breast tissue in men. It is a common, benign condition that is caused by a change or imbalance in hormoneshormonesA substance that regulates specific body functions, such as metabolism, growth and reproduction. (testosterone, estrogen).
Obesity that causes the breasts to enlarge is called pseudogynecomastia. It is not caused by hormone imbalances.
Breast enlargement occurs mostly in young men during puberty and in older men. Both these age groups may have changes in their hormone levels.
The following risk factors may increase a man’s chance of developing gynecomastia:
In rare cases, breast enlargement can occur because of tumours (such as testicular) or endocrineendocrineThe group of glands and cells in the body that make and release hormones (which control many functions such as growth, reproduction, sleep, hunger and metabolism) into the blood. gland disorders (including those that affect the adrenal or pituitary gland) that cause a man to produce more estrogen. Men normally produce some estrogen, but it is not enough to cause their breasts to grow.
Certain types of cancer can also increase the amount of hormones that may cause gynecomastia, including:
The signs and symptoms of gynecomastia may include:
If the signs and symptoms of gynecomastia are present, or if the doctor suspects gynecomastia, tests will be done to make a diagnosis. Tests may include:
Treatment of gynecomastia will depend on the condition causing it. Finding and treating the underlying cause of the gynecomastia will often relieve this condition.
Breast enlargement during puberty may cause embarrassment and discomfort for teenage boys. In most cases, gynecomastia goes away without treatment after a period of time, usually within a few months.
Treatment options for gynecomastia may include:
A clinical trial led by the Society’s NCIC Clinical Trials group found that men with prostate cancer who are treated with intermittent courses of hormone therapy live as long as those receiving continuous therapy.