What Is Gigantomastia

What Is Gigantomastia?

Gigantomastia is a condition where women have unusually large or pendulous mammary glands (breasts). These are usually located on the chest wall, but they may extend into the armpit area. They grow from the endocrine gland called the ductus deferens. The size of these glands varies greatly among individuals. Some women have no signs at all. Others develop small masses which cause them to feel full and even painful when touched.

The most common form of gigantomastia is known as gigantism, which refers to the fact that it affects one gender more than another. Women with gigantism typically have larger than average mammaries. Men do not seem to be affected by gigantism.

However, some men have smaller than normal mammary glands due to a genetic defect.

There are other forms of gigantomastia such as microgynoastosis and macrogynoastosis. The latter is the most common form of gigantomastia. In general, male fetuses develop smaller mammary glands and do not grow them at all.

Those men and women with macrogynoastosis often develop kystatocys or a complete detachment of their lactiferous ducts from the pituitary gland.

There are a number of reasons why a woman’s mammary glands might become enlarged. Sometimes there is no clear cause for the enlargement. However, some of the most common causes include:

Cancer – the most common form of cancer that affects women’s mammary glands is known as ductal carcinoma. There are two other less common forms of cancer that commonly affect the mammary glands: lobular carcinoma and medullary carcinoma. The risk factors for a woman developing any of these three forms of cancer include a history of smoking and drinking.

Gigantomastia Idiopathic

Idiopathic refers to an unknown cause. Gigantomastia idiopathic is a condition in which a woman’s mammary glands grow larger than normal for unknown reasons. This condition can also occur during the onset of puberty.

In some women, it occurs only once and never again. In other women though, it may recur at various times in their life. There is no cure and there is no preventative treatment. The only way to alleviate the symptoms and discomfort is through a surgery known as a mastectomy.

Cancer of the MAMMARY GLANDS

CANCER OF THE MAMMARY GLAND: (Globally: 90% of cases are idiopathic)

In developed countries, cancer of the mammary glands is almost always linked to a mutation of the body’s immune system.

However in underdeveloped countries, the main cause of cancer is hormonal or physical damage caused by chemicals.

People with a family history are also more likely to develop cancer of the mammary glands.

This type of cancer tends to be slower growing than some of the other more aggressive types of cancer. It is common for a woman to have this type of cancer and not even realize it until it has reached an advanced or terminal stage.

It often begins in the lobules of the mammary glands or in the ducts that carry milk.

Tumors can also form in other parts of the body including the pituitary gland, lungs, bones, liver, and skin.

The most common symptom is a painless lump or swelling. The size of the lump can vary greatly from pea-sized to as large as a melon.

Other symptoms include:

-a persistent ache or tenderness in the affected area

-a discharge of blood-tinged fluid

-skin irritation or a rash

-a high temperature (fever)

-unusual fatigue or tiredness

Benign MAMMARY GLAND LUMP (Infiltrating Duct Carcinoma)

The most common type of cancer, affecting 90% of women at some point during their lifetime, and one of the most common causes of death among women worldwide.

The cause of this cancer is almost always related to hormonal imbalances in women due to infertility problems, birth control, periods starting later or later menopause, high stress levels, obesity, poor diet, drinking & smoking.

Cancer generally begins within a single milk duct and can then spread (metastasize) into surrounding tissues and organs.

If found early enough, this type of cancer is almost always treatable. The cancer is identified and removed through a procedure known as a lumpectomy, in which the tumor and some of the surrounding tissue is surgically excised.

After the surgery, radiation is often used to kill any cancerous cells that may have escaped detection.

Did You Know?

A woman’s risk of developing this type of cancer increases if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, or daughter) who has had it.

Did You Also Know?

After a lumpectomy, women often experience hormone imbalance for several months. This is especially true if radiation therapy is used as well. If you or someone you know is scheduled to undergo this procedure, it is important to keep in mind that your body may react differently than others and changes such as hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, and weight gain may or may not occur. These changes are only temporary and will eventually go away completely.


The American Cancer Society states that women who have their milk ducts surgically removed reduce their risk of developing cancer of the mammary glands by 90%. If you decide to forgo this life-saving surgery, please take extra care to examine your body on a regular basis. If you notice any changes in the size or texture of your lymph nodes, contact your physician immediately.

The survival rate for cancer of the lymph nodes is only 40% and begins to drop as soon as the cancer advances beyond the ducts and into the surrounding tissue.

Breast cancer can strike anyone, regardless of age. If you are over thirty and have not had a mammogram, it is important to do so immediately. This test is used to detect any signs of cancer or pre-cancerous cells early on.

You can find a local clinic through the internet or by asking your personal physician for a referral.


This concludes this edition of the Infoleek. Please remember to listen next time, when we will discuss a condition that affects more women than men: urinary tract infections.

Sources & references used in this article:

Gigantomastia–a classification and review of the literature by A Dancey, M Khan, J Dawson, F Peart – Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive & …, 2008 – Elsevier

Management of gestational gigantomastia by MR Swelstad, BB Swelstad, VK Rao… – Plastic and …, 2006 – journals.lww.com

Redefining gigantomastia by H Dafydd, KR Roehl, LG Phillips, A Dancey… – Journal of plastic …, 2011 – Elsevier

Quantitation of sensibility in gigantomastia and alteration following reduction mammaplasty. by S Slezak, AL Dellon – Plastic and reconstructive surgery, 1993 – europepmc.org

Gigantomastia complicating pregnancy by EF LEWISON, GS JONES… – … & Gynecological Survey, 1960 – journals.lww.com

Juvenile gigantomastia: presentation of four cases and review of the literature by SB Baker, BA Burkey, P Thornton… – Annals of plastic …, 2001 – journals.lww.com

Gigantomastia: a problem of local recurrence by D Kulkarni, N Beechey-Newman, H Hamed… – The …, 2006 – thebreastonline.com