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Oncology (General Cancer)/Third Nipples and the possibility of cancers


Hello Dr.,

I am a 21 year old male with a supernumerary nipple. I have just read some newer studies suggesting that there is a good link between these accessory nipples and cancer concerning the urinary tract and testicles. Possibly other issues with those organs too. Do you know more about this?


Anyways, now I am worried. I have also had several VCUGs and xrays when I was younger. I feel like now I am basically waiting to get some sort of cancer.

Suppose these links are veritible. Would having the nipple removed slash the increased risk or is it something that is established from when it is formed during before birth?

Do you think that the nipple causes these things or that the things influence the nipple?

Thanks for your time Dr. Higby


Removing the nipple will not change the risk to other organs; the extra nipple is merely a marker in some individuals of a (probably) genetic risk.  If we knew for certain what the genetic marker was, we could test someone like you to see if you really had the marker or not.  Most people with extra nipples don't get cancer.  The same can be said of VCUG; although there is exposure to radiation, the amount is quite small;  we know that the more radiation someone has the greater the likelihood of cancer (in the area irradiated) but it takes a lot to bring it into the range where you need to worry a lot.  
As far as I can tell from the literature, you might be at increased risk for bladder cancer (usually signalled by urinary bleeding or pain on urination) testicular cancer (usually signalled by a mass in the testicle that can be felt) or rarely, kidney cancer.  The likelihood of your getting one of these in the next ten years is pretty small.  Testicular cancer and most bladder cancer can be cured today; in the next few years at the rate of progress I think most other cancers will be curable.  Kidney cancer is especially likely to fall into that category, as there are genes that can be targetted and we already have drugs that can control kidney cancer for long periods.  
Adopt good health practices, get a check up now and then, and learn to examine your own testicles (every month or less).  The worst thing about having a slight increase in cancer risk is worrying about it; that can lead to a lot of wasted time and lost opportunities. And work with a doctor who keeps up with the field of cancer.  Hope this helps.  

Oncology (General Cancer)

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Donald Higby, M.D.


I can answer almost all questions related to the treatment and natural course of most kinds of cancer, especially cancers of prostate, colon, lung and breast.


I have been a practicing medical oncologist for 36 years, and have been chief of service at a major medical center for 25 years. I've also done research in cancer treatments.

American Society of Clinical Oncology

New England Journal of Medicine American Journal of Medicine Journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology Hematology Transfusion Medicine

MD, Stanford University Internal Medicine residency, St. Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO Medical Oncology Fellowship, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY

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America's Best Physicians, last 14 years

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