Today many women have to deal with this serious disease – breast cancer. Most cases occur in women over the age of 50. Cancer starts when cells begin to grow out of control. It is important to mention that this disease isn’t uncommon in men.
Today experts are aware of several types of breast cancer, knowing the type they are able to choose the appropriate method of treatment and help restore the body of patients suffering from breast cancer.
There are some types of breast cancer which are important to know, as the treatment and prognosis vary depending on the exact type of the cancer. The following gives some description of some common and rare types. Your specialist will be able to give you more details about the exact type of breast cancer that you have. Breast cancer is usually divided into non-invasive and invasive types. What all types of cancer have in common is that the cancer cells are abnormal and grow out of control.
Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a non-invasive breast cancer.
In DCIS, the abnormal cells are contained in the milk ducts (canals that carry milk from the lobules to the nipple openings during breastfeeding). It is called “in situ” (which means “in place”) because the cells have not left the milk ducts to invade nearby breast tissue.
Since the cells haven’t grown through the duct wall, they cannot spread to lymph nodes or other organs. But sometimes DCIS can become an invasive cancer if it is not treated. That is why it is sometimes called a pre-cancer. Mammograms find many cases of DCIS.
You may also hear the terms “pre-invasive” or “pre-cancerous” to describe DCIS.
DCIS doesn’t cause any signs or symptoms in most cases. However, you can notice some of them, such as:
- a breast lump
- bloody nipple discharge
Treatment for ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) usually involves surgery with or without radiation therapy. After surgery and radiation therapy, some women may take tamoxifen, a hormone therapy.
With treatment, prognosis is usually excellent.
Invasive Breast Cancer
Invasive breast cancer takes place when cancer cells from inside the milk ducts or lobules invade nearby breast tissue. Cancer cells can travel from the breast to other parts of the body through the blood or the lymphatic system. They may travel early in the process when the tumor is small or later when the tumor is large.
The lymph nodes in the armpit area (the axillary lymph nodes) are the first and common place where breast cancer is likely to develop.
In advanced stages, breast cancer cells may transfer to other parts of the body like the liver, lungs, bones and brain (this process called metastasis). There, the breast cancer cells may again begin to develop too quickly and make new tumors. This is called metastatic breast cancer.
The most common invasive types are ductal carcinoma and lobural carcinoma.
Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC)
It is also called infiltrating ductal carcinoma. This is the most common breast cancer. It develops in the cells lining a duct, and then the abnormal cells break through the wall of the duct and invade the tissue of the breast.
Signs and symptoms of IDC:
- swelling of all or part of the breast
- skin irritation or dimpling
- breast pain
- nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
- redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
- a nipple discharge other than breast milk
- a lump in the armpit area
Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC)
The cancer cells affect the milk glands (the lobules). The cells grow through the wall of the lobules and then can affect nearby lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
Lobular breast cancer usually manifests as a thickening of breast. In other words, you may notice an unusual fullness in one part of the breast if you have lobular breast cancer.
Other symptoms of lobular breast cancer include:
- skin changes around the affected area
- skin that is dimpled or thicker than usual
- an inverted nipple
Here are less common types of breast cancer.
Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC)
This type of breast cancer is uncommon. Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a very aggressive disease in which cancer cells block lymph vessels in the skin of the breast. This type of breast cancer is called “inflammatory” because the breast often looks swollen and red, or “inflamed.”
Inflammatory breast cancer accounts for 1 to 5 percent of all breast cancers diagnosed in the United States.
In its early stages, inflammatory breast cancer is often considered as infection, which is incorrect. Because there is no defined lump, a mammogram may not show it, but other examinations may detect it. It is more likely to invade and looks worse than other types of breast cancer.
Paget disease of the breast (Paget disease of the nipple) is a rare cancer in the skin of the nipple or in the skin, surrounding the nipple (areola). It is usually, but not always, found with an underlying breast cancer.
Metaplastic breast cancer is a rare cancer that can be hard to diagnose. Metaplastic tumors tend to be larger and have a higher tumor grade than more common breast cancers.
You should remember that self-examination plays an important role in the detection of this disease. If you notice any sign of these types you should go to the doctor for professional examination. The earlier the disease is revealed, the easier it is treated.