Psychological impact of male breast disorders: literature review and survey results

Breast Care (Basel). 2014 Feb;9(1):29-33. doi: 10.1159/000358751.


Background: Referrals of men to breast assessment clinics are increasing. While most of the men will have benign disease, some of them will have breast cancer. Whichever pathology they have, men should be offered a service tailored to their needs, rather than being 'shoehorned' into a service designed to care for women. This paper explores the psychological impact on men of their condition and of attending a breast assessment clinic.

Methods: The literature regarding male experience of breast problems is reviewed, and screening for psychological morbidity is discussed. Results of a survey regarding an all-male breast assessment clinic are reported, with a plan for future research.

Results: Many of the 78 men surveyed described negative feelings relating to their condition although they did not want to be seen in an all-male breast assessment clinic if that meant a longer wait. Men reported feelings of anxiety, embarrassment, emasculation and even depression regarding their condition.

Conclusions: Men are distressed by gynaecomastia and need psychological support for any breast-related presentation. More formalised research into this area is needed, although the men's distress does not translate into the desire to attend an all-male assessment clinic if this means a longer wait before being seen.

Keywords: Anxiety; Cancer; Male breast cancer.