My project is looking at how when the lymphatic system is not working properly, it can lead to a higher likelihood of breast cancer. The learning objective I am covering is to “Relate how the lymphatic system can indicate disease.” My artwork is an image of all the different types of nodes surrounding the breast.

Breast cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed tumors worldwide. This is why there are constant screenings for breast cancer. “Breast cancer cells can enter the blood and lymphatic capillaries” (Natale 2021). The cells entering the lymphatic system allow mechanisms on a molecular level to metastasize in the lymph nodes. The lymphatic system plays an important role in both tissue and fluid balance along with controlling the traffic of the immune cells. Since the lymphatic system carries a colorless liquid, it is hard to distinguish these tiny vessels. 

Breast cancer is a type of cancer that starts from the growth of cells inside the breast tissue. Breast cancer occurs from many different factors, this could be from life choices, hormones, and the environment around it. No matter the cause, the start of breast cancer is from a change in the DNA. DNA is always telling the cells to replicate, grow, and die. When this DNA is altered, the cells replicate rapidly and cancer cells can continue to live instead of dying. The growing lump of cells can cause a tumor to form on the breast tissue, causing a lump in the breast.

The lymphatic system is important for maintaining the balance of tissue fluid and transporting cells to the lymph nodes to help create an immune response. When the cancerous cells are growing, the lymphatic system can make progress on the spread of cancer because the cells can spread to the lymph nodes, going through the lymphatic vessels. The lymphatic vessel draining can go through changes when the breast tissue is undergoing a physiological or pathological process. The tissues surrounding the lymph fluids have a very important component in collecting the antigens and humoral factors. 

When the Breast tissue starts to develop cancerous cells and gets into the lymphatic system and lymph nodes, it can cause the cancer to spread much faster. The cancerous cells can sneak into the lymphatic capillaries and into the blood. Causing it to travel up into the lymphatic system. The foreign cancerous cells entering the lymphatic system and lymph nodes cause the lymph nodes to create an adaptive immune response to the unknown cells. When these cells get into the lymph nodes, lymphocytes are stimulated and begin to worry about the functional transport through the lymphatic vessels. This is important because the lymphatic system must maintain the microarchitecture within the lymph nodes, supporting the interactions between APCs and cognate lymphocytes (Padera 2016).

The lymphatic system does not necessarily cause breast cancer from the start, it can cause the breast cancer to spread more rapidly than if the lymphatic system did not get involved. The lymphatic system has the job of helping with our immune system, with the goals of keeping the body homeostasis and getting rid of any abnormal cells, which in this case are the cancerous breast cells, and fighting off things like infections in the body. The cancer cells that have formed in the breast tissue cause the lymphatic system to perform abnormally and be unable to fight off these cancerous cells. Instead, it causes the timeline of the growth to progress faster than normal, causing more of the cancerous cells to spread. 


Breast cancer – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic. (2024, February 10). Mayo Clinic.

Natale, G., Stouthandel, M. E. J., Van Hoof, T., & Bocci, G. (2021). The lymphatic system in Breast Cancer: Anatomical and Molecular approaches. Medicina, 57(11), 1272.

Padera, T. P., Meijer, E. F. J., & Munn, L. L. (2016). The lymphatic system in disease processes and cancer progression. Annual Review of Biomedical Engineering, 18(1), 125–158.

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