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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. Within the adipose tissue is a network of ligaments, fibrous connective tissue, nerves, lymph vessels, lymph nodes, and blood vessels. 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. 
When and how breasts start to develop: Between the ages of 9 and 17 girls go through puberty, when they start to change from a child to an adult and their breasts start to develop. The rate at which breasts grow is different for everyone. Breasts can also start to develop before a girl starts her periods – this is normal. By the age of 17 most girls’ breasts will be fully developed, although it may sometimes take a bit longer. When the breasts start to develop, a small bump called a breast bud grows under the areola and the nipple. As a girl’s breast buds grow, she may notice tingling, aching or itching in her chest and her nipples may swell or become tender. The breasts get bigger and rounder as the fatty tissue and milk-producing glands inside the breasts continue to grow and the areola also gets bigger and darker.
When breasts start to change:  
  • Before the menstrual period     
  • During pregnancy    
  • At the time ofbreastfeeding
  • At the age of 30s   
  • When periods stop. 
Breast cancer: Lobes, lobules and milk ducts are the parts of a breast wherein usually cancer begins to form. Cancer grows when a cell’s DNA is damaged but why or how that DNA becomes damaged is still unknown. It could be genetic or environmental, or in most cases, a combination of the two. Studies show, there are certain established risk factors that are associated with breast cancer. Many breast changes will be diagnosed as being a benign breast condition which is not cancerous.
Generic factors: 
  • Gender:Breast cancer may occur to both men and women, instance in women 100 times more than in men.
  • Age:Instances of invasive cancer are more in women above 55 years age group.
  • Family history and Genetic factors: Women having higher risk of breast cancer if has family history of breast or ovarian cancer.
  • Personal Health History: Risk increases if abnormal breast cells have been detected before (such as atypical hyperplasia, lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) or ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)).
  • Menstrual and Reproductive history: Early menstruation (before age of 12), late menopause (after age of  55), having first child at an older age or not given birth can also increase risk for breast cancer.
  • Certain Genome changes: Mutations in certain genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, can increase risk for breast  cancer.  Individuals with these gene mutations can pass the gene mutation onto their children.
  • Dense Breast Tissue:Having dense breast tissue can increase risk for breast cancer.
Environmental and life style risk factors:
  • Lack of physical activity, diet high in saturated fat, being overweightcan increase risk for breast cancer.
  • Frequent consumption of alcohol can increase risk for breast cancer. 
  • Having radiation therapy to the chest before the age of 30 can increase risk for breast cancer.  
  • Taking combined hormone replacement therapy as prescribed for menopause can increase risk for breast  cancer.

DR. ANJANA PHUKAN MEMORIAL FOUNDATION has started “ASMI – A programme on Cancer”. It is a programme dedicated for cancers in women - breast, uterine cervix. This programme is headed by eminent oncologist Dr. TapanSaikia.. Read More  »

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