The breasts are modified apocrine sweat glands and are therefore part of the skin, but their unique characteristic relates to their function as a source of nutrition for the neonate. Parts of the breast include the nipple, ducts, glands supporting adipose tissue, an ill formed capsule and the covering skin.
Structural features in the female include their bilaterality, semiconical shape, and their protuberant anterior position in the chest.
Functional characteristics include the ability to produce milk for the newborn.
The breasts are the seat of many diseases including fibrocystic change, fibroadenoma, mastitis, and carcinoma. Breast cancer unfortunately is the most common malignancy in women and is second to lung carcinoma as the leading cause of cancer death.
The diseases are commonly diagnosedby clinical examination, mammography, ultrasound and biopsy. Clinical concerns are raised mostly when an abnormal mass is felt, or a bloody discharge from the nipple is noted.
Treatment of cancer depends on the stage of disease but includes surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Infections are treated with antibiotics and abscesses need to be drained.