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Breast Anatomy

 
Breast Anatomy

Chapter: 2 - Breast Anatomy

Subchapter: 1 - Breast Anatomy

Anatomy & Functions
Throughout these videos, as you learn about breast cancer, we will repeatedly reference the anatomy of the breast. Understanding the different parts and functions will help you better grasp the details of breast cancer.

Adipose Tissue
The female breast is mostly made up of a collection of fat cells called adipose tissue. This tissue extends from the collarbone down to the underarm and across to the middle of the ribcage.

Lobes, Lobules, and Milk Ducts
There are also areas called lobes, lobules, and milk ducts. A healthy female breast is made up of 12–20 sections called lobes. Each of these lobes is made up of many smaller lobules, the gland that produces milk in nursing women. Both the lobes and lobules are connected by milk ducts, which act as stems or tubes to carry the milk to the nipple.

Lymph System
Also within the adipose tissue, is a network of ligaments, fibrous connective tissue, nerves, lymph vessels, lymph nodes, and blood vessels.

The lymph system, which is part of the immune system, is a network of lymph vessels and lymph nodes running throughout the entire body. Similar to how the blood circulatory system distributes elements throughout the body, the lymph system transports disease-fighting cells and fluids. Clusters of bean-shaped lymph nodes are fixed in areas throughout the lymph system; they act as filters by carrying abnormal cells away from healthy tissue.

In this chapter we looked at the anatomy of the breast, focusing on the milk ducts, lobes, lobules, lymph system, and lymph nodes.

Related Questions

  • anonymous Profile

    I went to the OB several years ago about a swollen/ sore area under my arm near the breast. She told me it was a gland. It has now come back and has not gone away for over 2 months. My new OB says it has a strange feel to it. Should I worry?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 7 years 3 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Worry enough to get it checked out with a biopsy. Lots of these things turn out to be nothing but I would push for further testing. Please get back to your doctor and insist on a biopsy or whatever it would take to see what this swelling is for sure. In the long run, it will give you peace of...

      more

      Worry enough to get it checked out with a biopsy. Lots of these things turn out to be nothing but I would push for further testing. Please get back to your doctor and insist on a biopsy or whatever it would take to see what this swelling is for sure. In the long run, it will give you peace of mind. Right now, I am sure you are already worried about this.
      Please let us know what you find out. Take care, Sharon

      1 comment
    • Erin Timlin Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      I had lymph nodes under my arm that felt like swollen glands (like bean sized) that tested positive. However, once they were palpable it was only a few months before they tested positive. I do not believe that if your swollen area went away for a few years that it would be cancerous, but it...

      more

      I had lymph nodes under my arm that felt like swollen glands (like bean sized) that tested positive. However, once they were palpable it was only a few months before they tested positive. I do not believe that if your swollen area went away for a few years that it would be cancerous, but it definitely would ease your mind to have an ultrasound. Good luck!

      Comment
  • Barbara Valianti Profile

    Has anyone experienced stinging and itching at an affected lymph node?

    Asked by anonymous

    stage_3a Patient
    over 5 years 3 answers
    • André Roberts Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      After surgery, I had stinging and stabbing pain. They say that is the nerves that were cut. No itching tho. It lasted a few days. Prayers to you.

      1 comment
    • Dawn Long  Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      I had stinging after surgery it felt like I cut myself shaving , it got better in a few weeks

      Comment
  • Joan Wehner Profile

    When you develop lymphodima in your arm, after a mastectomy, will it be permanent?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 3 answers
    • anonymous Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Hi Joan,
      I am a 4 year survivor of breast cancer. I had partial mastectomy and 17 lymph nodes removed from under my right arm followed by radiation and chemo. I did not develop noticeable lymphedema for about 2 years after my treatments. I started treatment with Lymphapress machine and an...

      more

      Hi Joan,
      I am a 4 year survivor of breast cancer. I had partial mastectomy and 17 lymph nodes removed from under my right arm followed by radiation and chemo. I did not develop noticeable lymphedema for about 2 years after my treatments. I started treatment with Lymphapress machine and an over the counter compression sleeve. This did not work very well and I eventually started manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) with a Registered Massage Therapist and I got a custom fitted sleeve. This has made a noticeable difference in the size of my arm within just a few weeks.

      I was told by several doctors and by my massage therapist that lymphedema cannot be cured, but you can keep it under control if you get the proper treatment and do the exercises. I would see if you can find a massage therapist or physiotherapist who is trained in either the Foldi or Vodder method of MLD.

      Good luck with your treatment, and I will be thinking of you.

      Comment
    • Deborah Goessling Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2009

      I had all the lymph nodes removed under one arm. About a year later, I experienced lymphedema that was successfully reversed. I don't know if this applies to all cases. My lymphedema was so mild that I didn't notice it. It was detected with the help of an L-Dex machine; otherwise, i wouldn't have...

      more

      I had all the lymph nodes removed under one arm. About a year later, I experienced lymphedema that was successfully reversed. I don't know if this applies to all cases. My lymphedema was so mild that I didn't notice it. It was detected with the help of an L-Dex machine; otherwise, i wouldn't have known I had it. After it was detected, the nurse practitioner (at my breast surgeon's office) instructed me to wear a compression sleeve for the next 8 weeks. I went beyond that and added back the exercising I had grown lax about doing. I re-started my jogging and weight-lifting programs. I always wore my sleeve while doing these things, and I read about how to do them safely. (For example, with weight-lifting start SLOWLY and increase GRADUALLY. Get plenty of rest between sets when weight-lifting. You might want to do one set for your arms and then alternate with a set for your legs so that your arm has more time to recover than when you follow a standard program. There are books and articles with good tips like this. I read up on it.) Anyway, after going 2 months wearing my sleeve all day PLUS resuming the exercising (jogging & weight-lifting) I had been slacking off on, my L-Dex scores went back to normal. I was told I no longer had lymphedema and could stop wearing the sleeve other than when I exercise. (I always wear it when I exercise.) This is just one case, and my lymphedema was MILD. So i don't know if this answer will help you.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    Had lumpectomy and Sentinel Node Biopsy a year ago, followed by radiation. Recently developed a tight pulling sensation in my arm, especially inside my elbow, but nothing visible. Does this sound like a mild case of cording? Should I get it checked?

    Asked by anonymous

    almost 4 years 3 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Yes, it could be. Always best to check so if it is,you can start treatment and get you comfortable again. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • sharon s Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Yes. Tight and heavy are signs of chording. Get back to your arm exercises.
      Mine flares up once in a great while. Massage from the fingers up through the armpit.

      Comment

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