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Gynecomastia (cont.)

IN THIS ARTICLE

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Gynecomastia?

The breast enlargement of gynecomastia is usually symmetrical in location with regard to the nipple and has a rubbery or firm feel. Both sides are typically affected, although it can develop on only one side. The enlargement may be greater on one side even if both sides are involved. Gynecomastia is not accompanied by severe pain, although the enlarged area may be sensitive or tender.

In contrast to gynecomastia, male breast cancer is usually located only on one side and is not necessarily centered around the nipple. Other symptoms suggestive of cancer include a hard or firm feeling to the tissue, dimpling of the skin, retraction of the nipple, nipple discharge, and enlargement of the underarm (axillary) lymph nodes.

When to Seek Medical Care

If a male develops gynecomastia, it is appropriate to contact a health care practitioner. He or she may order tests to help determine the cause of gynecomastia. It is important to rule out any serious medical conditions that may be the cause of gynecomastia.

What Tests Diagnose the Cause of the Pain?

Gynecomastia is usually diagnosed by a physical examination. The presence of breast tissue greater than 0.5 cm in diameter is characteristic of gynecomastia. In addition to a physical examination, a careful medical history is also important to help assess the cause of gynecomastia.

The doctor may order tests, such as blood tests or imaging studies, to help establish the reason for gynecomastia. Mammography is indicated if there is any suspicion of male breast cancer.

How Is Gynecomastia Treated?

Treatment of gynecomastia is not always necessary since transient gynecomastia, such as occurs during puberty, generally resolves on its own without treatment within three years. If medications are the cause of gynecomastia, stopping the offending drug can be effective in reducing gynecomastia. Treatment of any underlying medical conditions is also important. Both medications (see below) and surgery have been successfully used to treat gynecomastia.

Can the Condition Be Treated At Home?

A variety of chest compression garments and vests are available to help minimize discomfort and/or improve cosmetic appearance if desired.

What Is the Medical Treatment for Gynecomastia?

Medications are most effective when used in the early stages of gynecomastia, because the enlarged breast tissue often becomes scarred after about 12 months. Medications are not likely to be effective at reducing scar tissue, and surgical removal is the only possible treatment.

What Medications Treat the Condition?

Patient Comments

Treatments for gynecomastia have not been extensively studied, so data showing their effectiveness are limited. No drugs have yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of gynecomastia. In general, two types of medications have shown promise for the management of gynecomastia:

  • Testosterone replacement: This therapy has been effective in older men with low levels of testosterone, but it was not proved to be effective for men who have normal levels of the male hormone.
  • SERMs: The selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) tamoxifen (Soltamox) and raloxifene (Evista) can help reduce the amount of breast tissue, although they are not able to entirely eliminate the problem. These medications are most often used for severe or painful gynecomastia.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/11/2017

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Gynecomastia (Enlarged Breast in Males):

Gynecomastia -- Patient Experience

Do you have gynecomastia? Tell us about your experience.

Gynecomastia - Causes

What was the cause of your enlarged breasts, and how did the condition affect you mental health?

Gynecomastia - Medications

What medications were successful in treating your gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia - Surgery

Did you have surgery for gynecomastia? Please tell us about your experience. Your recovery time, improvement in mental health, etc.



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