What to Know About Gigantomastia

Medically Reviewed By Stacy A. Henigsman, DO

Gigantomastia occurs when breast tissue grows excessively, resulting in very large breasts. Though experts don’t know the exact cause yet, it may link to hormonal changes, certain autoimmune conditions, or taking some medications. Along with physical symptoms like pain or difficulty moving, gigantomastia may result in mental health difficulties, including depression or anxiety. The condition is treatable. Your doctor may recommend medications, surgery, or both to manage it.

Read on to learn more about gigantomastia.

What causes gigantomastia?

An adult female in a bra and skirt dancing in her home
Maskot/Getty Images

Healthcare professionals don’t fully know yet why excessive breast tissue develops in some people, and many cases are idiopathic, meaning there’s no identifiable contributing factor. However, research shows some other potential risk factors.

Hormonal changes during pregnancy

A 2017 research review Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source of case reports noted that most of the people studied experienced gigantomastia in the first or second trimester of pregnancy. The researchers hypothesized that this could be due to the production of the hormone gonadotropin, which helps regulate the ovaries.

People who initially develop gigantomastia during pregnancy may also develop it during subsequent pregnancies.

Hormonal changes during puberty

Researchers also identified hormonal imbalances or the body’s increased sensitivity to typical hormone production during puberty as possible risk factors Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source for gigantomastia.

Autoimmune conditions

Gigantomastia may link Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source to certain autoimmune conditions, including:

Medications

A 2021 case report noted that certain medications may link to gigantomastia, including:

  • penicillamine (Depen), which doctors prescribe to treat conditions like Wilson disease or rheumatoid arthritis
  • cyclosporine (Gengraf), which is an immunosuppressive medication doctors prescribe to manage conditions like psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis

Some people have also reported two other medications that aren’t available in the United States, methaniazide/thioacetazone (Neothetazone) and bucillamine (Bucilant), as possible causes of gigantomastia.

What are the symptoms of gigantomastia?

Gigantomastia involves breasts that rapidly develop a large amount of additional tissue. It often affects Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source both breasts. 

Other possible symptoms include:

  • sores on the breasts
  • infections
  • nipples that feel numb
  • breast pain
  • itchiness under bra straps
  • neck pain, back pain, or slouched posture due to the weight of the breast tissue
  • nipple discharge

How do doctors diagnose gigantomastia?

If you notice that your breasts are growing significantly larger, your doctor can perform a physical exam to diagnose gigantomastia. They can also ask about your medical history.

In some cases, your doctor may order an imaging study like a CT or MRI scan to rule out other conditions, such as cancer.

What are the treatments for gigantomastia?

There are several options for treating gigantomastia.

Surgery

Some people may need to undergo breast reduction surgery, also called reduction mammoplasty, to relieve their symptoms. Mastectomy, or complete breast removal, may also be necessary in some cases.

Both of these techniques are typically effective Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source .

Learn 10 things to know about breast reduction.

Medications

A case report from 2015 Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source noted that healthcare professionals have prescribed certain types of hormonal therapy in the management of gigantomastia associated with puberty or pregnancy, including:

  • bromocriptine (Parlodel)
  • tamoxifen (Nolvadex)
  • medroxyprogesterone (Depo-Provera)
  • danazol (Danocrine)

However, more research is necessary to determine whether these medications may work well for people with gigantomastia.

What is the outlook for people with gigantomastia?

Gigantomastia can affect your quality of life, making movement uncomfortable and causing emotional distress. But you can address it in several ways, so contact your doctor if you’re concerned about breast tissue growth. They can advise you on surgical solutions or medications that may help.

What are some potential complications of gigantomastia?

An excess of breast tissue can be uncomfortable and interfere with your usual routine. Complications may include:

Prompt treatment can reduce your risk of complications.

Other frequently asked questions

Stacy A. Henigsman, DO, reviewed the answers to these common questions about gigantomastia.

At what age does gigantomastia occur?

Gigantomastia can occur at different points in a person’s life. For example, it may first appear during puberty for some people, while others may develop the condition later in life during pregnancy.

Is gigantomastia cancer?

Gigantomastia is a benign, meaning noncancerous, condition. However, some people may mistake it Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source for cancer because the symptoms, such as tissue growth and skin changes, may be similar to cancer.

Summary

Gigantomastia is a condition involving rapid breast growth. The exact cause isn’t clear, but it may link to certain medications, hormonal changes, and autoimmune conditions.

Gigantomastia is typically treatable with surgery, but certain medications may also be beneficial. Talk with your doctor about a treatment plan that’s right for you.

Was this helpful?
0

Medical Reviewer: Stacy A. Henigsman, DO
Last Review Date: 2023 Nov 17
View All Breast Cancer Articles
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.