NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Breast Cancer - Early-Stage
(STAGES I AND II)
, Version 1.2016
You’ve learned that you have breast
cancer. It’s common to feel shocked
and confused. Part 1 reviews some
basics that may help you learn about
breast cancer and its treatment.
Before learning about breast cancer, it is helpful to
know about breasts. The ring of darker skin seen on
the outside of the breast is called the areola. The
raised tip in the middle of the areola is called the
nipple. In young girls, there are small ducts under the
nipple that branch into fatty tissue like early growth
from a seedling. These immature ducts are supported
by connective tissue called stroma.
Increases in female hormones among girls during
puberty cause their breasts to change. The stroma
increases, the ducts grow and branch out like tree
limbs, and lobules form at the end of the ducts like
leaves at the end of twigs. Lobules are small sacs
that make breast milk after a baby is born. Breast milk
drains from the millions of leaf-like lobules into the
ducts that connect to the nipple.
See Figure 1.1
look inside women’s breasts.
Lymph is a clear fluid that gives cells water and food
and helps to fight germs. It drains from breast tissue
into lymph vessels within the stroma.
See Figure 1.2
Then, it travels to the breast’s lymph nodes, most
of which are in your armpit. Lymph nodes are small
structures that filter and remove germs from lymph.
Nodes near the armpit are called axillary lymph
6 Women’s breasts
8 Breast cancer
10 Cancer stage
10 Treatment options