Most women, when they think of possible conditions that may occur at the breasts level, actually think of breast cancer. This is the reason why it is essential for both women and men to know that there are other serious diseases, which appear with a higher frequency, that people should worry about.
Each mammary gland consists of 15-20 lobes and these lobes are made up of smaller sections called lobules. Lobules are made of bulbs (agglomerations of cells) which produce milk. Lobes, lobules and bulbs communicate with each other through ducts that reach the nipple. The spaces between lobules and ducts are filled with fat. There is no muscle tissue at all inside the breast, as muscles are in fact located under the mammary gland, covering the ribs.
Years ago, breast diseases were of concern to everyone, but now they can be detected by ultrasound, mammography or thermography. Thermography is based on a simple principle, if a breast disease occurs, it will register higher temperatures than the surrounding areas. The device is basically a system of collecting these temperatures, which are processed statistically. The registered values lead to differential diagnosis between a malignant and a benign nodule.
When you look in the mirror, you will probably notice that your breasts are not identical as a mirror image, one of them being slightly higher or lower. If the patient notices that one breast is a cup size bigger than the other one, this happens mostly because it is a benign breast asymmetry. This discrepancy between breasts sizes and shapes becomes apparent at puberty when breasts begin to develop, or during pregnancy when the breasts are preparing for breastfeeding.
In exceptional cases, breast asymmetry may indicate a birth defect called the Poland syndrome, characterized by poor development of one of the pectoral muscles and it commonly occurs in men. Generally, the syndrome does not lead to the outbreak of serious diseases, but there are cases in which patients with Poland syndrome suffer from kidney or gallbladder diseases.
Although it may be a hereditary disease or a congenital defect, breast asymmetry may go unnoticed until puberty when breasts begin to develop. However, it is good to know that breast asymmetry in both men and women is a warning sign of breast cancer.
Cysts are usually considered evidence of cancer, but it should be noted that eight of the 10 cysts removed surgically after breast biopsies turn out not to be carcinogenic. Women are not the only ones who can develop breast cysts or breast cancer; men can also suffer from these conditions. Nevertheless, breast cancer risk among men increases with age. Interestingly, 20% of men with breast cancer are married to or live with a woman who suffers from this disease.
Most women notice the cysts during the menstrual cycle or menopause. Some of these cysts can be precancerous.
Usually, the presence of poly-cysts indicates a commonly encountered benign breast disease, called fibrocystic mastose or fibrocystic transformations of the breast. The specific causes of this condition are still unknown, but researchers believe the disease is closely linked with menstrual disorders.
Women with cystic mastose claim they feel an unusual weight and sensitivity of the breasts, especially during menstruation. The fibrocystic mastose, which affects one or both breasts, tends to disappear after menopause.
September 10th, 2010
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