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Benign Breast Conditions

Gynecomastia is the most common male breast disorder. It is not a tumor but rather just an increase in the amount of a man's breast tissue. Usually, men have too little breast tissue to be felt or noticed. A man with gynecomastia has a button-like or disk-like growth under his nipple and areola, which can be felt and sometimes seen. Gynecomastia, common among teenage boys, is due to changes in hormone balance during adolescence. The same condition is not unusual in older men and is also due to changes in their hormone balance.

Rarely, gynecomastia can occur because tumors or diseases of certain endocrine (hormone-producing) glands cause a man's body to produce more estrogen (the main female hormone). Although men's glands normally produce some estrogen, it is not enough to cause breast growth. Diseases of the liver, which is an important organ in male and female hormone metabolism, can change a man's hormone balance and lead to gynecomastia.

Many commonly prescribed medications can sometimes cause gynecomastia, too. These include some drugs used to treat ulcers and heartburn, high blood pressure, and heart failure. Men with gynecomastia should ask their doctors about whether any medications they are taking might be causing this condition.

Klinefelter's syndrome, a rare genetic condition, can lead to gynecomastia and increase a man's risk of developing breast cancer. This condition is discussed further in the section on risk factors for male breast cancer.

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  Website updated on  April 2008
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