Volumen 52 #1 | Año 2015 Volver Indice
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  Gynecomastia. Clinical and Ethiological Aspects. Retrospective, Multicenter Study  
  Authors: Costanzo PR, Suárez S, Aszpis SM, Stewart Usher JG, Pragier UM, Vásquez Cayoja M , Iturrieta S, Knoblovits P, Pacenza NA  
  Gynecomastia is a benign enlargement of breast tissue in men. It occurs physiologically in three stages of life: newborns, pubescent boys and older adults. It is a frequent reason for consulting and –though generally benign– it produces anxiety and discomfort. It is important to differentiate between the asymptomatic presence of palpable breast tissue, which is of little clinical relevance, and a recent onset breast enlargement usually associated with pain and swelling, which can be a sign of illness or pharmacological impact.
Aims: To evaluate the presenting features (symptoms, duration, laterality, etc.) and biochemical profile of gynecomastia; to assess the etiology of gynecomastia in the study population.
Methods: Retrospective, multicenter study. We evaluated the medical records of 220 men aged 18-85 years (average age 33 years: median 39.5 ± 19.6 years) with imaging and clinical diagnosis of gynecomastia who had undergone biochemical assessment. The consultation period was from May 2002 to June 2013.
The following data was assessed: breast pain, duration of gynecomastia, sexual function, galactorrhea, weight change, habits (alcohol, drug addiction, anabolic steroids), history of pubertal gynecomastia, use of medication and family history of gynecomastia. Physical examination: weight, height, body mass index (BMI), breast and gonadal examination. Laboratory: total testosterone (TT), bioavailable testosterone (Bio-T), estradiol (E2), luteinizing hormone, follicle stimulating hormone, prolactin, thyrotropin, alpha fetoprotein, β subunit of human chorionic gonadotropin and carcinoembryonic antigen. For hormonal abnormalities, each site's reference values were considered. In all patients, gynecomastia was confirmed by ultrasound and / or mammography.
Results: A higher prevalence of gynecomastia is observed in the age range between 21 and 30 years (n = 66; 30 %). Most patients presented spontaneously (77.7 %); the rest were referred from other specialties. The most frequent reasons for consultation were aesthetic reasons (70.4 %) and breast pain (27.3 %). Twenty-three point two percent of subjects had a history of pubertal gynecomastia. Evolution time prior to consultation was highly variable (1 month to 40 years).
On physical examination, 122 patients (55.4 %) had bilateral and 98 patients (44.6 %) had unilateral gynecomastia (54.1 % left and 45.9 % right); 44.8 % were overweight and 22.4 % were obese. BMI: 27.2 ± 4.3 kg/m2. In 29.1 % of patients breast pain was identified on medical examination. One patient (with macroprolactinoma) had spontaneous galactorrhea and in 3 patients mammary secretion was found on physical examination. Gonadal examination was performed in 147 patients, 126 had normal testicular volume, 10 had bilateral hypotrophy, 7 had unilateral hypotrophy and 4 unilateral absence of the testis. Idiopathic gynecomastia was the most common etiology (47.8 %). The most relevant secondary cause of gynecomastia was anabolic steroids consumption (14.1 %). In 6 cases two causes coexisted (total: 226 causes). Elevated cancer markers were not found in any of the cases.
If we divide the population into patients younger and older than 40, in the former the most common secondary causes were the use of anabolic steroids and persistent pubertal gynecomastia, while in patients older than 40, they were hypogonadism and medical drug use.
Patients with bilateral gynecomastia had a longer history of gynecomastia: 3.4 ± 5.7 versus 1.4 ± 1.9 years (p = 0.0004); higher BMI: 28.4 ± 4.4 versus 25.5 ± 3.5 kg/m2 (p < 0.0001) and lower TT levels: 4.7 ± 2.0 versus 5.4 ± 1.9 ng/ml (p=0.019) than patients with unilateral gynecomastia, respectively. A negative correlation between BMI and TT was found (r= -0.38, p< 0.0001). No correlation between BMI and E2 and between BMI and bio-T was found. Ultrasound was used in 83.2 % of patients and mammography in 43.6 % (both 28.2 %).
Conclusions: Patients with gynecomastia consulted more often for aesthetic reasons and secondarily for breast pain. Detection of galactorrhea was rare. Gonadal examination was normal in most patients and 66.7 % were overweight or obese. Just over half of the patients presented with bilateral gynecomastia and compared with cases of unilateral gynecomastia, they had a longer history of disease, higher BMI and lower TT levels.
The most common cause of gynecomastia was idiopathic in all age groups. Persistent pubertal gynecomastia and anabolic steroids consumption were frequent in patients younger than 40 years, and medical drug use and hypogonadism in patients over 40. The presence of gynecomastia may be the expression of an underlying and clinically relevant disease. This highlights the need for an adequate and complete clinical, biochemical and imaging assessment in these patients.

Rev Argent Endocrinol Metab 52:22-28, 2015
No financial conflicts of interest exist.
  Key words: Gynecomastia, Hypogonadism, Anabolic steroids  
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