The Many Types of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer can begin in anywhere in the breast. This means the ducts, the lobules, and in some cases, the tissue in between. In this article you can learn briefly about each type of breast cancer and how it can affect you. This list includes non-invasive, invasive, and metastatic breast cancers. Breast cancer can touch the lives of women and men alike.

Ductal Carcinoma In Situ or DCIS is a form of non-invasive breast cancer. With this type, the cancer forms inside of the milk ducts of the breast, hence the name ‘ductal.’ Carcinoma refers to any cancer the begins on the skin or within the other tissues of the breast or internal organs. The term ‘in situ’ refers to the cancer being in its original location inside of the body and has not spread anywhere other than the ducts. Having DCIS does raise your risk for other cancers and the chance of reoccurrence is much higher but remain under thirty percent. According to the American Cancer Society, over sixty-thousand cases of DCIS are diagnosed every year in the United States, which accounts for nearly one in five of the new breast cancer cases diagnosed. Many specialists believe that the reason that these numbers are so high is because mammography and pretesting are getting more defined and better at detecting the slightest cell change and diagnosing cancer much early.

Invasive Ductal Carcinoma or IDC is also called infiltrating ductal carcinoma and is the most common type of breast cancer, with five different sub-categories. Almost eighty percent of all diagnosed breast cancers are invasive ductal carcinomas. Invasive cancers invade surrounding healthy tissues and organs. In this case, it invades the ducts which are the tubes that carry milk from the producing lobules to the nipple. It can burst through the ducts by growing out of control. Over time, this cancer can spread to the lymph nodes and other areas in the body. Over one-hundred-eighty-thousand women in the United States find out they have invasive breast cancer every year. While this cancer can affect any woman at any age, it is most often found in women who are fifty-five or older. This cancer also affects men in growing statistical numbers.

Invasive Lobular Carcinoma or ILC can also be called infiltrating lobular carcinoma and is the second most common type of breast can being diagnosed. Of the one-hundred-eighty-thousand diagnosed cases of breast cancer, ten percent of them of with this type of cancer. The term ‘lobule’ means that the cancer begins in the lobules of the breast. The lobules are the milk-producers in the breast, that eventually empty from the nipples. This type of cancer starts in the lobule and grows through the walls and into other surrounding areas. This type of cancer affects those women who are over fifty-five and are later in their years of life. This cancer has been linked to the use of hormone replacement therapy during and after menopause, which increases the overall risk for future cancers of many types.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer or IBC is a rare and very aggressive form of breast cancer that makes up only one-percent of cancer cases in the United States. This cancer normally begins with the swelling and reddening of the breast, instead of a distinct lump. This cancer grows and spreads quickly, with symptoms worsening in days and in severe cases, only hours. It is important to recognize symptoms and seek emergent treatment. The average age for being diagnosed with this cancer in the United States is fifty-seven for Caucasian women and fifty-two for African American women. In a study done in 2008, researchers connected obesity and being overweight with an increased risk for those, including men, to develop IBC.

Lobular Carcinoma in Situ or LCIS is an area of abnormal cell growth that increases the risk of developing invasive breast cancer later in life. Lobular signifies the abnormal cells began in the lobules, and this cancer remains ‘in situ,’ or in the original place it began. People diagnosed with this cancer often have more than one growth in more than one lobule. While the technical term for this disease means cancer, this is not a true form of breast cancer. Many specialists and experts now call this type of breast cancer lobular neoplasia, because a neoplasia is a collection of abnormal cells. LCIS is normally diagnosed before menopause between the ages of forty and fifty in women. Less than ten percent of diagnosed women have gone through menopause by the time of diagnosis. This cancer is very uncommon in men. There are few symptoms with this condition and is most identifiable via biopsy.

Male Breast Cancer is a very rare cancer with less than one percent of all breast cancers that occur in men. A 2018 study showed that roughly three-thousand men were expected to be diagnosed with this disease. The overall risk for men to develop breast cancer is about one in one-thousand. Males and females alike both have breast tissue. The only difference is that female hormones grow the breasts to be larger and producers after creating a life. Male breast tissue usually stays flat against the chest or have only small mounds. In some cases, men can develop swollen breast tissues and the breast glands can be stimulated to grow. There have not been many cases of this condition which many studies and informational research being done on this are still happening.

Molecular Subtypes of Breast Cancer are broken in to five categories based on the genes a cancer expresses.

-Luminal A breast cancer is hormone-receptor-positive, which means estrogen-receptor and/or progesterone-receptor positive, HER2 negative, and has low levels of the protein Ki-67, which helps control how fast cancer cells grow. Luminal A cancers are low-grade, tend to grow slowly and have the best prognosis for treatment.

-Luminal B breast cancer is hormone-receptor-positive, which means estrogen-receptor and/or progesterone-receptor positive, and either HER2 positive or HER2 negative with high levels of Ki-67. Luminal B cancers generally grow slightly faster than luminal A cancers and their prognosis is slightly worse, making treatment more challenging.

-Triple-negative or basal-like breast cancer is hormone-receptor-negative, which means estrogen-receptor and progesterone-receptor negative and HER2 negative. This type of cancer is more common in women with BRCA1 gene mutations. Researchers are not sure why, but this type of cancer also is more common among younger and African-American women.

-HER2-enriched breast cancer is hormone-receptor-negative, which means estrogen-receptor and progesterone-receptor negative and HER2 positive. HER2-enriched cancers tend to grow faster than luminal cancers and can have a worse prognosis, but they are often successfully treated with targeted therapies aimed at the HER2 protein, such as Herceptin, Perjeta, Tykerb, and Kadcyla.

-Normal-like breast cancer is similar to luminal A disease with hormone-receptor-positive, which means estrogen-receptor and/or progesterone-receptor positive, HER2 negative, and has low levels of the protein Ki-67, which helps control how fast cancer cells grow. While normal-like breast cancer has a good prognosis, the prognosis is slightly worse than luminal A cancer’s prognosis.

Paget’s Disease of the Nipple is a rare form of breast cancer in which the cancer cells collect around the nipple. This cancer usually begins by attacking and affecting the milk ducts, then spreads to the outer surface of the nipple. The nipple usually becomes itchy, red, scaly and irritated. The American Cancer Society states that this type of cancer accounts for less than five percent of all cases of breast cancer in the United States. Many people diagnosed with Paget’s Disease of the nipple also have DCIS or invasive cancer somewhere else in the breast. In most cases, the changes of the nipple and areola are the first indication that breast cancer is present. Doctors are not completely sure how Paget’s develops, other than the abnormal cell growth builds and causes lumps and growths. Paget’s disease of the nipple is more common in women but can also affect men. The most common age to develop this disease are those over fifty, and the average age of diagnosis for women is sixty-two; sixty-nine for men.

Phyllodes Tumors of the Breast are rare tumors in the breast and account for less than one percent of diagnosed breast cancers. The term, ‘phyllodes’ means ‘leaflike’ in Greek language, which signifies how the cancer cells form a leaflike pattern in the tissues where it spreads. These are fast-growing tumors, but rarely spread outside of the breast tissue. Most of the phyllode tumors are benign, but some can turn cancerous. Some of these tumors can alter from precancerous to cancerous, and back again, depending on the immune system. Phyllode tumors of the breast can occur at any age, but most often are found in women over forty. These are very rare in men.

Metastatic Breast Cancer is also referred to as stage IV breast cancer, which means it has spread in to another part of the body. The most common places for metastatic cancer to spread are the liver, brain, bones and lungs. With this type of cancer, the cancer cells have broken away from the original in situ location and traveled to other parts of the body through the bloodstream or the lymphatic system. Breast cancer can come back in another part of the body months or years after the original diagnosis and treatment occur. Over thirty-percent of women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer will end up with metastatic disease. In cases where the original form of breast cancer was not caught in time, the spreading breast cancer is then referred to as ‘de novo metastatic,’ which simply means that the breast cancer was not detected before it spread. Metastatic cancer can be very stressful and difficult to deal with due to the complications and poor outlook of the disease. There are now a wide variety of treatments available for this type of cancer, which allow many people to live their lives to the fullest for many years. Metastatic breast cancer may never go away completely, but treatment can help to control the growth for many years.

If you are facing any type of breast cancer, do not hesitate to reach out in your local community to find a support group or hospital group to help you through the difficult times. In many cases, these groups not only provide support but put you in contact with people and families struggling with some of the same exact things you are- which can make life a little calmer to know that you are not alone.

Resources Used:

Breast Cancer .org


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