Gynecomastia is noncancerous enlarged breast tissue in men. Male breasts can develop when there is a hormonal imbalance of estrogen to testosterone. 65% of men or more will develop breasts at some point in their life; it is often seen in newborn male babies, as boys go through puberty, and in the aging male. In most cases, the male chest will return to normal on its own within a few weeks to a few months.
Gynecomastia From Mild to Severe
There are 4 grades of gynecomastia, from mild to severe. After puberty, if the male breast has not returned to normal after 2 years, then surgery will be the only permanent solution.
Some men are comfortable with their breasts and do not feel the need to hide them. They are able to have a normal life without their breasts causing them any embarrassment. They enjoy the beach and pool parties or any situation where they remove their shirt. For these men, they do not need to consider surgery as the breast tissue is benign.
Male Breast Cancer is Rare
Gynecomastia has been known to be caused by certain medications used in the treatment for such conditions as; ulcers, prostate cancer, and heart conditions. However, even though gynecomastia is fairly common, male breast cancer is rare. There are only about 2,000 men a year diagnosed with breast cancer, and of that number about 400 die of the disease. Men with gynecomastia are slightly more at risk for breast cancer due to the elevations of estrogen. Additionally, men are more at risk for breast cancer if it is in their family history, Jewish ancestry, or some genetic disorders.
Dr. Miguel Delgado, M.D. states that even though the incidence of cancer is very low, men should get regular checkups, do self-breast exams, and always be on alert for any lumps, unusual swelling, or pain and see their doctor promptly.