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Breast Development and Anatomy


Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology: March 2011 - Volume 54 - Issue 1 - p 91–95
doi: 10.1097/GRF.0b013e318207ffe9
Breast Cancer: Pursuing State of the Art Care

In this article, the development of the female breast, as well as the functional anatomy, blood supply, innervation and lymphatic drainage are described. A thorough understanding of the breast anatomy is an important adjunct to a meticulous clinical breast examination. Breast examination is a complex skill involving key maneuvers, including careful inspection and palpation. Clinical breast examination can provide an opportunity for the clinician to educate patients about their breast and about breast cancer, its symptoms, risk factors, early detection, and normal breast composition, and specifically variability. Clinical breast examination can help to detect some cancers not found by mammography, and clinicians should not override their examination findings if imaging is not supportive of the physical findings.

Program in Women's Oncology, Breast Health Center, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Women and Infants Hospital, Alpert Medical School, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island

Correspondence: Richard G. Moore, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, Providence, RI. e-mail:

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.