The breasts are complex organs composed of various types of tissues. Hence, there is not just one, but multiple forms of breast cancer. The type of breast cancer is usually categorized as invasive (also referred to as infiltrating) or noninvasive (often referred to as in situ), and then categorized by the location of the cancer within the breast. The prognosis can differ among each type of cancer. Below are short summaries of more common types of breast cancer that you should know to help protect yourself or another loved one.
DCIS is one of the most common types of noninvasive breast cancer, where 1 in 5 breast cancer cases are diagnosed as such. Ductal carcinoma in situ is diagnosed when abnormal cells have been discovered in the lining of the milk ducts in the breast, and it has not yet spread through other parts of the breast. Prognosis for DCIS is very high if discovered in the early stages of atypical cell formation. However, if left untreated for periods of time, the carcinoma can spread to other parts of the breast(s) and the rest of the body. DCIS can usually be detected through breast examinations and mammograms.
Invasive ductal carcinoma is also found within the milk ducts of the breasts, but as its name suggests, is highly invasive and has already spread beyond the ducts to other breast tissue. If left untreated, IDC can metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body beyond the breasts. Just like its noninvasive counterpart, Invasive ductal carcinoma makes up 70 to 80 percent of all breast cancer cases, and is the most common type of infiltrating breast cancer. This form of breast cancer can also affect men as well, and is usually staged by the doctor (stage 1 to stage 4) depending on its severity. Many other forms of breast cancer are subtypes of IDC.
This form of cancer is also referred to as ILC, and is the second most common form of invasive breast cancer after invasive ductal carcinoma. Abnormal cells are found in the milk-producing lobules of the breast, and tumor consistency can be firm or very hard. It makes up for 10 to 15 percent of all breast cancer cases, and prognosis can be good if ILC is caught in the early stages. When metastasized, ILC cells are most likely to spread to the gastrointestinal tract.
Tubular carcinomas are a subtype of invasive ductal carcinoma that begun in the milk ducts of the breast, and have spread beyond to other parts of the breast tissue. They are usually less than 1cm, very small, and are made up of tube-like structures in the form of a tumor. This form of cancer accounts for about 1 to 5 percent of breast cancer cases. Tubular carcinoma does not affect men as much as women, and are more often diagnosed by mammograms than annual examinations (as it may take a few years before any health practitioners can feel the actual growth).
This form of breast cancer is a subtype of invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast, and also takes place in the milk ducts. It makes up about 3 to 5 percent of breast cancer cases, and can occur in anyone at any age. The highest risk group is women beyond 40 years old, and takes form of a soft, fleshy tumor that can be felt during breast examinations. Medullary carcinoma does not grow quickly, and usually does not spread outside of the breasts. To learn more about risk factors for breast cancer, see 10 Common Breast Cancer Risk Factors.
Once cancer cells have spread beyond the breast, to the lymph nodes and other parts of the system, it is considered Stage 4 cancer. Metastatic breast cancer is a general term to describe such situation, and can apply to all types of breast cancer. Common places of the body breast cancer can spread to include the bones, brain, liver, and lungs. This condition can also happen to breast cancer survivors, or those who never had the initial diagnosis of breast cancer. Hence, it is very important to note any abnormal signs and symptoms and report it to your doctor immediately, and always take preventative cautions and have annual breast checkups.
With Breast Cancer Awareness month right around the corner, it is important to be aware of the condition that affects both men and women worldwide. Now that you have read about some of the more common types of breast cancer, do not stop here. Some rare forms of breast cancer, such as inflammatory breast cancer, have very poor prognosis and can spread quickly and aggressively due to uncommon signs and symptoms. Spread the knowledge and awareness to your friends and family!