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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

  • Rachelle W Profile

    3 days ago my biopsy report came back with IDC & DCIS. Looks to be Stage 1, but it was only a stereotactic needle biopsy. 1 of 6 samples were invasive & only 2mm. What are the chances it spread? Next is surgery & checking lymph nodes. Scared...

    Asked by anonymous

    Survivor since 2014
    about 5 years 3 answers
    • Life is Good! Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2003

      A breast cancer diagnosis is overwhelming. Sorry you have to go through this. Thankfully, it was caught early and is very treatable. Most likely, it has not spread, however even if it has, there is still a lot of hope. I was stage 2 with one node positive and doing great 11 years later. One...

      more

      A breast cancer diagnosis is overwhelming. Sorry you have to go through this. Thankfully, it was caught early and is very treatable. Most likely, it has not spread, however even if it has, there is still a lot of hope. I was stage 2 with one node positive and doing great 11 years later. One day at a time, you will get through this! Do something that brings you joy each day! Enjoy some "cancer free" moments to distract you. Yoga helps me relax. Keep the questions coming, we care about you!

      2 comments
    • Betti A Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      It sounds like my diagnosis; 1st biopsy by U/S showed IDC with some DCIS and the 2nd one done stereotactially was all DCIS. I had 2 areas right next to each other and a 3rd area was found on surgical pathology (LC I think). My lymph nodes looked OK on the MRI but the surgeon told me she would...

      more

      It sounds like my diagnosis; 1st biopsy by U/S showed IDC with some DCIS and the 2nd one done stereotactially was all DCIS. I had 2 areas right next to each other and a 3rd area was found on surgical pathology (LC I think). My lymph nodes looked OK on the MRI but the surgeon told me she would look at them anyway; she took 8 and all were negative for mets.

      1 comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    I have enlarged blocked lymph nodes under my arm. They have become painful could this be inflamatory breast cancer?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 8 years 1 answer
    • Cathy Wadkins Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Dear anonymous,
      Get that checked because you could have lymphphoma

      Comment
  • Heavy  Heart Profile

    What can you do/say to a stage four breast cancer patient who wants to give up her treatment (radiation and chemotherapy)?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 3 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      It is her choice. You don't have to support the decision to love her. Ask her if she has a bucket list?

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      I think you have to honor her choice. Sometimes going into palliative care (not hospice) can do wonders for patients. Treatment for cancer is difficult and if she had been going through it more that once, and this is an advanced cancer that doesn't see any improvement, support this woman. The...

      more

      I think you have to honor her choice. Sometimes going into palliative care (not hospice) can do wonders for patients. Treatment for cancer is difficult and if she had been going through it more that once, and this is an advanced cancer that doesn't see any improvement, support this woman. The place where I get my --fight-up-- is when a woman gives up before having treatment at all. If this woman has had a tough go of it, and not getting better, allow her to live the rest of her life free of the pain of further treatment and free of the guilt of choosing this way. I am so sorry... Take care, Sharon

      Comment
  • 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

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