Let me remind you of the structure of the breast, so that in the future it will be easy for you to navigate. The mammary gland is free to lie on the surface of the pectoralis major muscle, mobile. It consists of glandular mammary lobes, which are located radially from the nipple. The excretory ducts of the lobes converge in the form of rays and end in holes on the nipple. From the breast, there are lymphatic pathways to the axillary, subclavian, cervical and other lymph nodes. The functioning of the breast occurs under the influence of ovarian hormones, and at the onset of pregnancy – and the hormones of the placenta (baby’s place), the hormones of the fetus itself.
During pregnancy and child feeding, the milk lobules increase significantly, with the cessation of feeding, their reverse development occurs, and the breast begins a period of functional rest until the next pregnancy. Normally functioning mammary gland is resistant to diseases. Observations and statistics indicate that women who did not give birth and did not breastfeed are 3 times more likely to have various breast lesions than women who gave birth and breastfed a child. Therefore, pregnancy and subsequent breast-feeding protect a woman from various breast diseases, including precancerous ones. It is safe to say that the occurrence of breast cancer is always preceded by various precancerous diseases of the breast. Systematic traumatic injuries of the mammary gland leads to proliferation of epithelium. In addition, in recent years, the influence of ovarian and pituitary hormones on the occurrence of various breast diseases has been increasingly emphasized.
These epithelial growths, called hyperplasias, are reversible in the first stages and stages of the disease if the introduction of irritating factors is stopped. If you continue to inject these hormones or systematically cause traumatic damage, the changes in the breast become more significant, the connective tissue grows. There is a disease that is commonly called mastopathy; at the same time, if the mammary gland develops mainly fibrous tissues, then mastopathy is called fibrous. But sometimes cystic formations can also develop, and then this disease is called fibrocystic mastopathy. Fibrocystic mastopathy is characterized by a chronic course and often does not show signs of growth for many years. Sometimes there are cases when this disease under the influence of pregnancy with normal functioning of the breast undergoes reverse development, i.e. self-healing. In this case, dense tumors of elastic consistency are formed in the mammary gland. The tumor is mobile, not fused with the skin, usually does not bother the patient, and only during menstruation it swells somewhat and becomes painful.
The axillary, subclavian, and cervical lymph nodes are not enlarged or are not palpable at all. It should be noted that diseases occur more often in young women than in women in the menopausal period and after it. At the same time, at a young age, mastopathy is less likely to turn into cancer than in the elderly. Patients suffering from chronic mastopathy should observe and strictly follow certain rules. A woman with mastopathy should be under the supervision of a doctor. If the disease does not cause any doubts about its quality, then initial examinations (3-4 consecutive examinations) are performed every 2 months, and subsequent ones – 2 times a year.
However, surgical treatment is also possible. The operation relieves a woman of nervous tension, protects from the possibility of a tumor turning into cancer, from new suppurations, and at the same time preserves the function and shape of the breast. In addition, you should pay attention to physiotherapy, especially quartz, do not massage the mammary glands. You should wear loose bras so that they do not squeeze the mammary glands and do not disrupt their blood circulation. If dense, enlarged and painful lymph nodes are found in the armpit, this should cause alertness, i.e. you should immediately consult a doctor.
Close attention should be paid to those mastopathies in which large nodes are determined in the mammary gland. This is the so-called nodular form of mastopathy. Nodes are subject to mandatory surgical removal, since the thickness may conceal incipient breast cancer.
There is also a distinction between plasma inflammation of the breast. This name refers to inflammation of the breast in women that is not associated with either pregnancy or lactation. The mammary gland is swollen, enlarged, sensitive to touch, with edematous and red skin. The temperature in the diseased breast is elevated, the lymph nodes are enlarged, dense. The acute stage of the disease lasts 1-3 weeks, and then turns into a chronic one. The redness, pain, and puffiness disappear, leaving only a dense small tumor fused to the skin. The lymph nodes are enlarged. Both in the acute and chronic stages of the disease, pus is released from the nipple, which is examined under a microscope to find special cells called plasma cells. When the first signs of the disease appear, you should consult a doctor.
Fat necrosis (partial necrosis of areas of the breast) can also be a cause of cancer. In the history of the disease in such patients, it is always possible to establish an injury, followed by hemorrhage, bruising. Fat necrosis occurs almost exclusively in women with large mammary glands, and the palpable tumor is localized not in the gland tissue,but in the surrounding tissue. Very often, with this disease, an oily liquid is released from the nipples, which is formed in the mammary gland at the site of necrosis. The lymph nodes are mostly not enlarged. Treatment is usually not required. You should only protect the affected chest from bruises, injuries, and excessive sun exposure. If the tumor is large, and the oily liquid released through the nipple becomes pink, pain appears, then to prevent cancer, this tumor should be removed, keeping the mammary gland intact.
Chronic abscesses after mastitis can make themselves felt sometimes after a very long time after the elimination of an acute abscess (1-2 years, and sometimes even after 10 years). It should be noted that chronic breast abscesses can occur in women who have never given birth or fed children. Sometimes on the breast, in the area of the nipple or in the crease under the breast, especially if it is large or hanging, there are small eczema rashes, boils and small ulcers.
breast parenchyma and can cause a chronic abscess in it. Chronic abscesses can develop by transferring the contagious beginning (infection) to the mammary gland with flu, sore throat, or inflammation of the genitals.
Usually women forget about the former acute inflammation of the breast, especially if this inflammation did not end with surgery, and after a few years they sometimes come with complaints about an accidentally noticed tumor in the breast.
Tuberculosis of the breast is quite common, and in a variety of forms. It can be in miliary tuberculosis, which affects many organs and tissues of the human body, including the mammary gland. This form does not pose a risk of turning into cancer, and if miliary tuberculosis can be cured, then breast tuberculosis can also be cured. In the nodular form of tuberculosis of the mammary glands, one or more nodes are most often detected in one gland. Usually, the diagnosis is easy to make if the patient simultaneously has tuberculosis of the lungs. The defeat of the lymph nodes in the neck or in the armpit always precedes the appearance of tuberculosis in the breast itself. Then there is tuberculosis of the breast in the form of a limited tear, and, like any tuberculosis abscess, it does not have the typical signs of inflammation, since there is no redness on the skin, increased temperature around the abscess, and pronounced inflammatory pain. Tuberculosis abscesses are commonly referred to as”cold abscesses”. In the future, they are opened, and fistulas of the breast are formed. Tuberculosis of the mammary gland requires radical surgery. Pre-treatment with specific antibiotics. It is dangerous to leave scars in the mammary gland after healed (cured) tuberculosis fistulas, ulcers, nodes and abscesses, since a cancerous tumor can develop in them after the process is eliminated.
Paget’s disease is an eczema-like lesion of the nipple of the breast and the periarticular circle, which often turns into cancer. There are reddening and compaction of the skin in the area of the nipple and periarticular circle with the formation of a wet surface, devoid of epithelium and covered with crusts. The nipple is inflamed, crimson-red, wrinkled, flattened, and sometimes so retracted that it can only be detected under a magnifying glass. In such cases, there is a red bleeding wet surface in place of the nipple. This picture is very similar to non-healing eczema of the skin. The process from the excretory ducts of the breast slowly spreads into the thickness of the skin with its germination and the formation of a wet surface. The disease can sometimes last 5-8 years, without going beyond the nipple, but in the future, the mammary gland and lymphatic axillary nodes are also affected. Such eczema of the nipple should be immediately subjected to conservative treatment, and if there is no recovery within the next 2-3 months, then surgery is necessary. Otherwise, the threat of cancer is quite real.