Health Tips for Seniors

Archive for April, 2006

Findings in the breast

Breast findings

Breast findings in the over fifty age group revolve about the one consuming thought cancer. Breast cancer accounts for 15,000 deaths yearly in the United States alone, but it is well worth knowing that most breast difficulties are not cancers.

Absent Breast. This is a very unusual inherited condition. It is not considered a disease and has no significance regarding cancer of any source.

Extra Breast (Polymastia). This is not a disease, and more of a curiosity than anything else. Usually, only the nipple is present and found below the normal breast in line with the umbilicus. Extra breasts are not indicative of cancer or of other disease, but are usually removed for cosmetic reasons.

Enlargement (hypertrophy). The greatly enlarged breast may present considerable inconvenience, but has no great significance in disease for the present or future.

Nipple Retraction. A retracted nipple existent since breast development has little significance. However, if the nipple re-

Fig. 39. Nipple retraction of many years usually has no significance, but a recently retracted nipple may mean serious disease.

traction has developed recently, especially at fifty years or more, it may have great significance for malignant disease of the breast. It is the first sign of trouble in about 3 percent of the breast cancers, and demands a physician’s examination immediately.

Abnormal findings of the chest wall and breast

Pigeon Breast. This deformity is a sharply projecting breastbone resembling the protruding breast of a chicken. It is usually present since childhood, because of rickets or malnutrition, and is of little importance in adult years.

Funnel Chest. A common deformity which is the opposite of pigeon breast. The chest wall has a pushed-in appearance due to the breast bone being pulled back against the spine by muscles and ligaments. Funnel chest may interfere with proper heart and lung action in childhood, but in later years seems to cause very little difficulty.

Fig. 38. Emphysema may produce barrel-chest deformity. The chest must be constantly overexpanded to compensate for a thinned-out and less effective lung.

Emphysema (Barrel Chest). This enlarged chest is actually a constantly over-expanded chest. The disease consists of thinned out lung tissue, with the chest over expanding in an attempt to better use the remaining lung. This is a debilitating disease confined to later age groups. (See Lung Disease).

Lateral Curvature of the Spine (Scoliosis). Curvature of the spine is very common in later years and is possibly the result of childhood rickets, mild poliomyelitis, or foot and leg difficulties.

Work habits also can produce a mild degree of curvature of the spine, but usually lateral curvatures are not even suspected until the deformity is accidentally found in an examination. Seldom do they cause any difficulty. (See Deformities of the Spine.)

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