Monday, January 12, 2009

When it comes to breasts – three’s a crowd?

While many men and women have strong opinions about the size of breasts, most would agree the number of their breasts— two— is fine. Unfortunately, for those with polymastia, that’s not always the case. Sometimes referred to as accessory breasts, polymastia is the presence of supernumerary (extra) breasts on the human body. The extra breast tissue can appear in many forms, everything from a third nipple (the most common condition, referred to as polythelia) to a fully-formed — and fully-functional breast — in some unusual location. It can also present itself as a breast with a nipple but no areola, a breast with an areola but no nipple, or just a small lump of breast tissue with neither nipple nor areola. According to a recent article in The American Surgeon, it’s not as rare as you might think. The condition occurs in up to 6 percent of the general population, although it is commonly misdiagnosed, usually as lipoma, a benign tumor composed of fat cells. In a few cases, supernumerary breasts can be diagnosed with breast cancer. Women report a much higher rate of polymastia and polythelia than men, but there have been several reported cases of men with accessory breast tissue. Extra nipples are more common.

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