Breast swelling in men

Breast swelling in men (Gynaecomastia) is common and is not usually anything serious. It can affect one side more than the other. The area is often tender.

Causes of breast swelling in men

Breast swelling in men is usually caused by an imbalance in hormone levels. It’s particularly common immediately after birth, at puberty and in old age.

Other common causes include:

Sometimes an illness or condition may be the cause of breast swelling in men. This includes:

  • liver disease
  • previous surgery to the testicles
  • testicular cancer
  • growth in a hormone-producing gland under the brain (pituitary gland)
  • cancer treatment

If there’s no obvious cause for your symptoms, your GP practice may organise blood tests. This will show if there are any changes that would explain the breast swelling.

Breast cancer in men

Men can develop breast cancer but it’s quite rare. The most common symptom of breast cancer in men is a specific lump in the breast.

It’s important to speak to your GP practice if you have a specific lump in the breast and not just general swelling.

It’s especially important to get checked if you’re over 40. Your GP practice may then refer you to a breast clinic.

Further information and support on breast cancer in men

Managing non-cancerous breast swelling in men

Breast swelling in men will usually improve if the underlying cause is dealt with. This may mean it takes time to improve the breast swelling.

Breast swelling at puberty that has no obvious cause will usually settle by itself.

Your GP practice may prescribe medication to see if it helps swelling in the breast. But, this type of treatment is not used very often.

Surgery is not usually recommended to reduce breast swelling in men. This is because it can cause scarring and may change the shape of the breast. But, surgery may be offered if the swelling is very noticeable.

Last updated:
18 October 2023