I Need Help! Are Breast Lumps on Boys Normal?

A mother finds a breast lump on her 11-year-old boy. Our expert weighs in on how normal this is.
Breast Lump on Boy
Q
My 11-year-old son found a small, hard lump under his nipple. The doctor said it was normal and that it could switch from one nipple to the other. Could you give me more information on this and what changes I need to look for, should they occur?
A

It's very common for young boys who are going through puberty to have some swelling or enlargement of the breast tissue under the nipple. This is the case for about 70 percent of adolescent boys. It usually occurs on both sides, although it can occur on just one breast.

The cause is the hormonal changes that occur during adolescence. There is a slight imbalance between testosterone and estrogen production for a short period of time. It's not clear why it sometimes affects one breast more that the other.

Usually, this breast enlargement regresses (goes back down) as the other pubertal changes progress. There are no special treatments needed. If there is any discharge from the nipple, or if your son is not showing other signs of going through puberty, then further evaluation could be needed.

There are reports of breast cancer in men, but it is extremely, extremely rare in adolescent boys, and I wouldn't worry about it.

You can read more expert advice about breast development in boys here.

Shari Nethersole is a physician at Children's Hospital, Boston, and an instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. She graduated from Yale University and Harvard Medical School, and did her internship and residency at Children's Hospital, Boston. As a pediatrician, she tries to work with parents to identify and address their concerns.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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