Breast Problems in Men

Spot Breast Problems and Deal with Them

female doctor examining patient with stethoscope
Breast problems in men. Buero Monaco / Getty Images

You may think that only women should be concerned about breast problems. However, men have breast too and can experience lumps, soreness and cancer. Breast problems in men range from harmless to life-threatening, and a doctor should be consulted for a proper diagnosis. Here's what you should know about breast problems in men, and how to deal with them.


Between the ages of 10 and 25, swelling under one or both nipples may suggest a non-cancerous condition known as gynecomastia or an increasing breast size. Hormonal changes during adolescence or hormonal imbalances in old age can sometimes cause this condition. Increasing breast size in adult males is almost always due to weight gain, which results in fat laying down over the pectoral region.

Gynecomastia may last a few months or persist for years, and it's mostly a cosmetic concern. See your doctor if breast development increases or if you are at all concerned. Gynecomastia may also occur as a result of some medications or if you are taking hormones. Be sure to discuss this with your doctor.

There are a few medical conditions, some of them requiring treatment, that can cause gynecomastia, so an accurate diagnosis will tell you and your doctor if you need to treat an underlying condition.

Runner's Nipple

Red, sore, cracked or blistered nipples are often associated with irritation caused by loose clothing rubbing against the skin. This is a common problem when running (hence the nickname "runner's nipple") but is not only caused by running. To fix the problem, apply some petroleum jelly or some antibiotic ointment, or cover the affected area with an adhesive bandage. You can also prevent the chaffing that occurs during running by applying ointment or a covering before starting your run. See your doctor if a growth occurs or if you are concerned.

Breast Cancer

Yes, men get breast cancer too. While breast cancer is about 100 times less common in men than in women, about 2,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer are diagnosed in men every year, according to the American Cancer Society. In addition, the American Cancer Society estimates 440 men will die of breast cancer in 2016. A hard, painless lump under the nipple could indicate something serious. Any swelling of the breast should be evaluated by a medical professional. If you are diagnosed with breast cancer

No matter what symptoms you are experiencing, always talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about your health. He or she will be able to rule out serious issues or provide you with treatment options.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources

  • "Breast Problems in Men." American Academy of Family Physicians. 18 Dec 2006.
  • "Men's Health." MedlinePlus. 23 Oct 2006. U.S. National Library of Medicine & the National Institutes of Health. 18 Dec 2006. 
  • American Cancer Society. (2016, January 26). What are the key statistics about breast cancer in men? Retrieved March 28, 2016