Breast Anatomy and Lymphatics

  • The breast in a premenopausal woman is composed of glandular tissue, fat, connective tissue and ducts; the axillary tail of breast tissue is tucked upward in the axilla. The breast lies on the pectoralis muscles of the thorax.
  • The breast is divided by irregular fibrous septa which prevent masses from migrating from one area of the breast to another; malignant tumors may eventually erode through these septa.
  • Lymphatic channels travel throughout the breast, with all but the most medial portions draining to the axillary lymph nodes. The “sentinel” node—the first node to receive drainage from the breast—can be determined with testing and evaluated for metastatic spread.
  • Post-menopausal women have little glandular tissue since most of it has been replaced by fat.

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