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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

    how many lymph nodes need to be involved to recommend chemo

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 5 years 7 answers
    • View all 7 answers
    • Betti A Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      What has your doctor told you? My surgeon removed 8 even though they looked OK on my MRI. They were all negative and I still had chemo. and rads. The radiation also covered the axilla though the nodes were gone.

      Comment
    • Mary Navarro Profile
      anonymous
      Patient

      I don't think it matters. It depends on your stage, grade and family history.

      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 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
  • Connie Logan Profile

    Is it okay after a bilateral mastectomy to have a port put on the right side which is the only side lymph nodes were removed from?

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 2B Patient
    almost 8 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      That would be a great question for your oncologist. It seems reasonable it would be ok but not being a doctor, they should answer that for you. Port's make chemo treatments much easier.

      Comment
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      The port is usually placed on the non-cancerous side. What has your Onc said about this?

      1 comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    The surgeon said he removed 25 lymph nodes and 10 were cancerous. Does this mean it has probably spread elsewhere? Are these numbers normal?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 8 years 2 answers
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      As Sharon said...every woman is different. I had 15 lymph nodes removed and 13 of those were cancerous. It doesn't necessarily mean that your cancer has traveled past the lymph nodes. Your dr. May want to do more testing to make sure. I had chemo before my surgery. Then had to have more...

      more

      As Sharon said...every woman is different. I had 15 lymph nodes removed and 13 of those were cancerous. It doesn't necessarily mean that your cancer has traveled past the lymph nodes. Your dr. May want to do more testing to make sure. I had chemo before my surgery. Then had to have more afterwards. When they found the positive nodes...some of them were "extranodal" meaning the cancer had broken outside some of the lymph nodes. That was the reason I needed more chemo. I'm going through radiation now. I'm also happy to say that my last PET scan showed no cancer!! Voice your concerns with our Dr. Yes, let us know how you are. Prayers to you. :)

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      It means it has spread from the original tumor. Your doctor will probably want additional testing of the type of tumor and the aggressiveness of the cells. I had 5 sentinal lymph nodes removed and one was positive for cancer. I hope you keep us posted as your treatment continues. We, on this...

      more

      It means it has spread from the original tumor. Your doctor will probably want additional testing of the type of tumor and the aggressiveness of the cells. I had 5 sentinal lymph nodes removed and one was positive for cancer. I hope you keep us posted as your treatment continues. We, on this board, want to support every woman who is going through this journey. All of our stories are different but we all care for each other.
      Take care, Sharon

      4 comments

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