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Women’s Cancer Communication Project

Coordinated by the European Institute of Women’s Health

About breasts | Breast Parts | Risk Factors | Protective factors | Facts

The Breasts are glands

Breast - Details of the Breast

Front View: showing glands, fatty tissue and muscle.


In women, their main purpose is to produce milk after childbirth. They are

made from a large number of glands that produce and store milk at this time.

The image displays the internal construction of the breast, as viewed from

the front.It details how the various glands are connected and

interconnected, to the nipple.

Breast internal structures - Details of the Breast

Side View: showing glands, fatty tissue and muscle.

This provides a clear image of the structure of the Breast.

You can see all the glands are connected through to the nipple.

Checking your breasts regularly helps you to quickly recognise any changes.

Remember most lumps are not cancerous, but all need to be checked out

and advice sought from a health professional.

Early checking helps you take an active role in managing your health.

A lump can appear anywhere in the breast area or under your armpits, through the lymph glands.

Parts of the Breast Area:

Glands of the breast - Details of the Breast Breast: Glands (Front View)

Mammary glands are called the alveoli and are hollow cavities, a few millimetres large.

These, the alveoli, are joined up into groups known as lobules.

Each lobule has a duct that can drain into openings in the nipple.

Glands of the breast - Details of the breast

Breast: Glands (Side  View)

Fatty tissue of the breast - Details of the breast

Breast: Fatty Tissue (Side View)

Fatty tissue of the breast - Details of the breast

Breast:  Fatty Tissue (Front View)

Muscle of the breast - Details of the breast

Breast Muscle (Front View)


Breast muscle - Details of the breast

Breast Muscle (Side View)

Nipple - Details of the breast

Nipple (Side View)

Rib cage - Details of the breast

Rib Cage (Side View)

Breast muscle layer - Details of the breast

Breast supporting muscle layer

(Side View)

Risk Factors:

  • Getting older, particularly after the menopause, or 50 years of age
  • Having a near relative who has developed breast cancer Childbearing later in life – ie. first pregnancy after 30.
  • Early menarche – first menstruation at an early age.
  • Late menopause.
  • Obesity – overweight. High alcohol intake.

Protective Factors:

  • First pregnancy before 25 – this is highly protective.
  • High fibre diet.
  • High intake of fruit and vegetables.

Facts and Figures.

From Ireland:

  • In Ireland, one woman in 14 will develop breast cancer.
  • In Ireland, one woman in 11 over the age of 50 will develop breast cancer.
  • Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Irish women.
  • It accounts for approximately 15% of female deaths from cancer.
  • Compared with European countries, Ireland has the second highest level of deaths from breast cancer.

From the world:

  • Breast cancer is the most common female cancer pathology in Western world.
  • It is the second leading cause of cancer death.
  • In the U.S. the risk of getting sick is the highest ever, in Australia and EU countries is slightly lower, while in Africa and Asia is very low.
  • In Europe, 275,000 women are affected each year.


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