Bock, Walter J. Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University, New York, New York.
Last reviewed:May 2020
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Either of the two human mammary glands, usually well developed in the adult female, but rudimentary in the male. Breast is the common term used for the human mammary gland. This structure is particularly important in the adult female because it functions primarily to provide nourishment (breast milk) to an infant. Each adult female breast contains 15–20 separate, branching glands that radiate from the nipple. During lactation, gland secretions are discharged through separate openings at the base of the nipple (see illustration). In terms of disease, breast cancer and other breast disorders are potentially serious medical conditions. The radiological imaging of breast tissue is known as mammography. See also: Breast cancer and other breast disorders; Breast milk as a functional food; Lactation; Mammary gland; Mammography; Milk; Nutrition
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