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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

  • Thumb avatar default

    Anybody knows if positive lymph nodes change into negatives?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 2 answers
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      Positive lymph nodes are usually removed in an axillary lymph node dissection.

      Comment
    • Laura Cornwell Profile
      anonymous
      Industry Provider

      Lymph nodes cannot be determined truly positive until they are removed or biopsied. As Diana has mentioned, the lymph nodes with cancer are usually removed during breast cancer surgery. Sometimes, if lymph nodes are positive, surgeons will want to operate again to look for more positive lymph...

      more

      Lymph nodes cannot be determined truly positive until they are removed or biopsied. As Diana has mentioned, the lymph nodes with cancer are usually removed during breast cancer surgery. Sometimes, if lymph nodes are positive, surgeons will want to operate again to look for more positive lymph nodes with cancer in them, but fortunately, these further dissections often turn up only negative lymph nodes.

      Once a lymph node has cancer in it (and is thus positive), it would not be expected to become negative unless possibly it is treated with radiation or chemo. In women who have chemo before their surgery, lymph nodes that were sampled may clear of cancer before they are completely removed in the surgery.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    Is it safe to assume that if the cancer was not found in the lymph nodes, it has not metastasized to any other part of the body?

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 1 Patient
    over 7 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      According to what I've read...if the lymph nodes are clear, then in the majority of cases...there is no metastasis to any other part of the body. It can happen....but not very often.

      Comment
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      There are no guarantees. We will live with this for the rest of our lives so I think it is important to live our live as normal.

      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
    almost 8 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
  • Robin Hero Profile

    Has anyone had a 3D mammogram detect inflammatory cancer? I have a diagnostic mammogram scheduled tomorrow and was just offered the option of also having 3D mammography done at same time.

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 5 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Betti A Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      3D mammography is a pretty new modality. I imagine not many places have the capibility of doing them yet if it's anything like when digital machines first came out. They generally are quite pricey pieces of equipment. I would say, "go for it" if given the opportunity, I know I would.

      6 comments
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Stage 3C Patient

      If your insurance pays, go for it!

      Comment

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