Breast Enlargement



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Breasts come in all shapes and sizes. They change throughout your life.

The breast is a glandular organ that produces milk after pregnancy. Your breast tissue extends beyond the breast mound and includes the area from the middle of your chest out to your armpit, up to your collarbone and down to your bra line. Your chest muscles and ribs are underneath the breasts. There are no muscles in your breasts.



 Breast Changes

Your breasts are continually changing. The major stages of growth, development and change occur during puberty, pregnancy, breast-feeding and menopause.

Increased hormone production during puberty triggers the growth of breast tissue.

Increasing age and weight changes can affect the shape, size and feel of your breasts.

During adolescence breasts can often be quite lumpy. Young women's breasts are usually dense and fibrous because there is more glandular tissue than fatty tissue.

You may find that your breasts feel more tender and lumpy just before your monthly period. These cyclic changes are normal and due to the body's response to changes in the level of the female hormone, oestrogen. The tenderness and lumpiness usually disappears after your period. If you take the contraceptive pill you may experience extra lumpiness or tenderness.

As you get older your breasts become less glandular and more fatty. This tends to make your breasts softer and less lumpy, although individual women vary greatly and you may retain some natural lumpiness as you get older.


 Breast Care

You should look at and feel your breasts regularly so that you become familiar with what is normal for you. If you are familiar with the normal changes in your breasts, you will be better able to identify changes that are not usual for you.


 Common breast problems

The vast majority of breast changes are not breast cancer. If you find a change in your breast or nipple it might be caused by one of the following:

Hormonal changesóHormones may make your breasts feel different at different times during your menstrual cycle. Your breasts may become swollen, painful or tender.

FibroadenomasóFibroadenomas are harmless lumps of fatty or fibrous tissue. They usually feel firm, smooth and rubbery and may move around in one area of your breast. Although they are common in younger women (aged eighteen to thirty) they can also be found in women over thirty. Fibroadenomas may become tender in the days before your period or grow bigger during pregnancy. As with all lumps, it is important to have them checked by your doctor.

CystsóCysts occur when fluid becomes trapped in the breast tissue. They may feel like a soft or firm lump and may be painful. Cysts are common in women aged thirty-five to fifty and in women taking hormone replacement therapy. You may have a cyst, or a number of cysts, without knowing it. They do not usually require treatment but may be drained if they are painful or troublesome. Although cysts are harmless, any unusual breast change should be checked by your doctor.

 Breast cancer risk

Risk factors for breast cancer can be classified into two groups: those for which we have strong evidence and other risk factors for which evidence is not yet as strong.

Risk factorsóstrong evidence

  • Being a woman
    The strongest risk factor for breast cancer is being a woman. Breast cancer can occur in men but it is very rare.

  • Increasing age is also a risk factor
    Breast cancer incidence increases with age. It is rare before the age of twenty-five. Seventy-five per cent of breast cancers occur in women over fifty.

  • Women with a strong family history of breast cancer may have an increased chance of developing breast cancer
    The increase in risk depends on the number of relatives affected, the age of the relative(s) when they developed breast cancer and whether they were on one or both sides of the family. Family history accounts for less than two per cent of all breast cancers. For more information about family history and breast cancer visit the National Breast Cancer Centre website.

  • Previous history of breast cancer or certain breast conditions
    Women who have had breast cancer in one breast have a greater risk of developing it in the other breast. There are also certain breast conditions (atypical ductal hyperplasia, ductal carcinoma in situ, lobular carcinoma in situ) detected through mammogram that increase the risk of breast cancer.

Other risk factorsóweaker evidence

There are several other factors that may affect your risk of breast cancer:

  • Beginning periods before the age of eleven and starting menopause after fifty-five have been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

  • Having no children or having a first child after thirty have both been associated with increased risk.

  • Women who are currently taking the contraceptive pill have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer. Ten years after coming off the Pill the risk is the same as the general population.

  • Having more than two alcoholic drinks a day also increases risk.

  • Women who have taken Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for more than five years have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer.

  • Body weight after menopause also seems important. An increase in weight may mean an increase in risk.

  • Studies have also shown a link between both smoking and passive smoking and an increased risk of breast cancer. Developing breast tissue may be susceptible to tobacco smoke during childhood and teenage years. This may have an impact on the risk of breast cancer later in life.

  • Additional risk factors include diets low in fruit and vegetables, and environmental factors such as chemicals and ionising radiation.

It has been suggested that abortion causes an increased risk of breast cancer, however, studies to date have been inconclusive.

More research needs to be done before we can be definite about risk factors. Many are factors that cannot be changed. Even if you have several risk factors it does not mean that you are certain or even likely to get breast cancer.


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