The breasts

The breasts are made up of fat, supportive (connective) tissue and glandular tissue containing lobules. The lobules (milk glands) are where breast milk is made. They connect to the nipple by a network of fine tubes called ducts. The breast tissue extends into the lower armpit (axilla). The armpits also contain a collection of lymph nodes (glands), which are part of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system protects you from infection and disease. It is a network of lymph glands throughout the body connected by tiny vessels called lymph vessels.

Side view of the breast
Side view of the breast

View a large version

Read a description of this image


It’s common for a woman’s breasts to be a different size or shape from each other. They also feel different at different times of the month. For example, just before a woman’s period, her breasts may feel lumpy. As a woman gets older, her breasts may change size and shape, and become softer.

Back to Understanding DCIS

What is DCIS?

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is the earliest possible form of breast cancer. It needs to be treated but is not life-threatening.

Signs and symptoms of DCIS

Most women with DCIS have no symptoms and are diagnosed through NHS Breast Screening Programmes. A small number of women do have symptoms.