Cancer 101 - Breast Anatomy
most people don't think about it, both men and women have breasts.
Breast development starts before you are born. A mammary ridge
or the milk line develops in the fetus at about six weeks. It
stretches to the groin area and then becomes more localized and
changes into recognizable breasts as it matures.
fully developed the breast tissue covers from the second rib to
the sixth rib starting at the edge of the sternum - your breast
bone, and reaching to the side of your body. If you draw a line
from the middle of your underarm downwards, that line would mark
the end of the breast tissue.
Although most babies are born with normal breasts, occasionally
there will be a birth defect. This is usually an extra or a missing
nipple on one or both breasts, or extra breast tissue. A missing
nipple can be corrected cosmetically with plastic surgery. Extra
nipples, polythelia, are usually mistaken as moles and unless
a problem develops, this condition is usually just ignored. Oddly
enough, although extra nipples only occur in one to five percent
of newborns, they are more common in males.
breast tissue which is called polymastia, does not usually cause
a problem. It may produce small lumps on the chest or under the
arms. However, this extra tissue can develop the same problems
as normal breasts. Cysts, fibroid tumors and even cancer can occur
in this misplaced tissue. These conditions are rare and should
not be a cause for concern unless you have been told by your doctor
that you have them. Removal of this tissue is not encouraged because
surgery in the area can damage the structures that make up the
breast and interfere with normal lactation.
the uterus, estrogen from the mother's body affects the babies
breasts. Full term infants of both sexes have noticeable amounts
of breast tissue. These "breast buds" normally disappear
by six months. Discharge from the breasts of babies, both boys
and girls, is common.
during childhood the breasts are flat and there are no signs of
development. The breasts of boys and girls are similar.
cancer has been recorded in girls as young as five, but this is
so rare that for statistical purposes the American Cancer Society
does not recognize any risk until a woman is 20. Age risks for
men have not been calculated.