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The chest is the front area of the human upper body between the neck or shoulders and the lower costal arch. The bony base of the chest is the rib cage with the sternum and ribs. The latter extend to the back of the thoracic spine, which also forms part of the chest, but cannot be assigned to the area of the chest. The chest encloses the so-called chest cavity, in which the heart and lungs are located. The trachea and esophagus are also protected inside the chest. The chest is covered by the chest muscles - the pectoralis major muscle (large chest muscle) and the pectoralis minor muscle (small chest muscle), which, among other things, take on important tasks when moving the arms and act as so-called auxiliary breathing muscles.
In normal-weight men, only a relatively thin layer of fat and connective tissue and the skin lie above the chest muscles. The female breast, however, is characterized by more pronounced fat and connective tissue structures, which lead to the clearly visible curves, which are also referred to as breasts (strictly speaking, the breast is the space between the two female breasts). The breasts of the woman contain the mammary glands, which are used to produce breast milk, which can be released through the nipples when breastfeeding. The breast is part of the secondary sexual characteristics in women.
Breast disorders can affect the bones, muscles and other tissue structures outside the chest, but can also affect the organs inside the chest cavity. The female breast is particularly at risk in the case of “external” diseases in the breast area. Inflammation of the breast is not uncommon here and breast cancer (breast cancer) is the most common cancer in women. The tissue structures outside the chest are affected less frequently by a disease in men, but they can also develop breast cancer. In addition, painful muscle tension, which is usually due to an unfavorable posture in everyday life, is relatively common. A rather rare disease in the chest area, which affects both men and women, is the so-called Tietze syndrome, in which the cartilages of the ribs on the breastbone become pathologically thickened. In addition, bruises and fractures of the ribs are among the "external" symptoms in the chest area.
Serious diseases in the chest area affect the organs inside the chest. These "internal" diseases include chronic heart diseases such as coronary artery disease, but also acute emergency events such as a heart attack. The lungs can also be affected by acute diseases such as pneumonia or bronchitis, but also by chronic conditions such as smoker's cough (COPD) or even lung cancer. In addition, various diseases of the esophagus are possible, ranging from acute esophagitis to life-threatening perforations of the esophagus to esophageal cancer. Many of the "internal" diseases in the breast area are accompanied by a stinging in the chest or chest pain, which is why a differentiating examination should urgently be carried out here, which makes it clear whether the symptoms are based on a life-threatening illness or more harmless causes. If the chest pain is accompanied by other symptoms such as dizziness, abdominal pain, tightness in the chest or nausea and vomiting, an emergency doctor should be alerted as soon as possible, as these are typical signs of a heart attack. (fp)