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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 back and forth. Could you give me more information on this and what changes I need to look for should they occur?
A: It is 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 approximately 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 is 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 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 would not worry about this.
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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.