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Basic anatomy: the breast

  • The female breast contains glands supported by fat and fibrous tissue.
  • The part of the gland that secretes milk and the structures that support it are known together as lobules. Groups of lobules form the lobes of the breast.
  • The lobes are separated from each other by sheets of fibrous tissue that extend from the muscles of the chest wall to the skin.
  • A single duct drains each lobe. The ducts converge to openings on the summit of the nipple. There are 15–20 ducts opening into the nipple.
  • The lymphatic system is part of the body’s natural defence, and spans the body, including the breast. Lymph is the name given to tissue fluid that drains through the lymph glands and ultimately rejoins the bloodstream.
  • There are about 10 to 30 lymph glands within the armpit receiving lymph from the breast.
  • Breast cancer cells can travel with lymph and lodge in lymph glands, which is why, when checking your breasts for cancer, you should also check your armpits for any abnormalities.
Basic anatomy of the breast
Image © Patient Pictures

Know your breasts

Breasts come in all different shapes and sizes and have different consistencies; sometimes, one breast is larger than the other. So it is important to know what your own breasts normally look and feel like. Women should also be aware of how their breasts feel at different times of the month.
  • Look at your breasts in a mirror with your arms at your side, and then with your arms raised.
  • Feel each breast and armpit, and up to the collarbone, regularly and at different times of the menstrual cycle.

See your doctor if you notice any of the following changes:

  • Dimpling or flaking of the skin
  • Nipple discharge
  • New lump, or thickening in the breast tissue
  • Unusual pain or discomfort
  • Any new difference in the appearance of your breasts (when looking at them, lifting them, or moving your arms).


Symptoms of breast cancer

Image © Patient Pictures

Breast problems and worries

For information on breast problems, see our pages on pain, drooping, large, small, lopsided, redness underneath, and breasts in men. For information on nipple problems, visit our pages on hairy, inverted, itchy and scaly, discharge, sore during breastfeeding, and extra nipples
Next month we will be taking a closer look at colonoscopy, the procedure used to investigate anal bleeding, changes in bowel movements, abdominal pain and other abnormalities. 

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Last updated: Tuesday, December 8th 2015


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Comments on this article

Posted by Optional on 05/01/2017 at 04:47

I HV noticed white color like little white pimples around my Brest only s few


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