Other Free Encyclopedias » Medicine Encyclopedia » Aging Healthy - Part 1 » Breast - Anatomy And Physiology, Changes With Aging, Breast Diseases

Breast - Changes With Aging

age women ert therapy increase

As a woman ages, the glandular component is replaced by fat, and the breast becomes softer and hangs lower as the suspensory ligaments inside the breast stretch. As the breast ages, the milk-producing sacs (lobules) may dilate with fluid and lead to the information of breast cysts, which sometimes enlarge sufficiently to be felt as lumps. The increase in fat content makes the older breast more lucent to X rays and easier to compress, so the clarity of a mammographic picture is greater in the older woman, making a small tumor more visible. This fact explains the greater accuracy of mammograms in older women and the adoption of population mammographic screening in women over forty-five years of age. As the breast ages, the skin gets thinner and the breast consists mainly of soft fat, making the breast more liable to bruising or trauma.

Estrogen replacement therapy (ERT), used to control hot flashes, tends to oppose the reduction of density that occurs with age and can produce tenderness, swelling, and lumpiness in the breast, manifestations normally seen in younger women. Thus, women on ERT may find their breast to be tender and fuller while on therapy. Surveys of ERT have shown a slight increase in breast cancer risk after more than fifteen years of estrogen use, but this problem is balanced by the improved quality of life on the therapy. Studies do not seem to indicate any major increase in the risk for breast cancer from ERT in women with a family history.

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