Types Of Breast Cancer

Types of breast cancer must be identified to determine prognosis and therapy.

Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS): Is non-invasive breast cancer meaning cells are confined to the lining of the milk ducts. The abnormal cells haven't spread through the duct walls into the surrounding breast tissue. Characteristics of DCIS tumors such as nuclear grade, surgical margin status, growth pattern, and histologic type are associated with the risk of recurrenceas as well as progression to invasive breast cancer.

Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC): The cancer cells break through the ductal wall and invade nearby breast tissue. They remain localized, or spread (metastasize) throughout your body, carried by your bloodstream or lymphatic system. 70% of breast cancers are IDC.

Lobular Carcinoma In Situ (LCIS): Is also non-invasive breast cancer that occurs within the lobules located at the end of the milk ducts, but hasn't spread beyond the lobule.

Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC): Cancer starts in the milk producing lobules and then break into the surrounding breast tissue. ILC can also metastasize to distant parts of the body. You typically won't feel a distinct, firm lump but rather a fullness or area of thickening.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC): Is an extremely rare, fast-growing and lethal form of breast cancer. It can spread in just a few weeks, and is often mistaken for something other than breast cancer such as a rash or infection. The rules should be simple. If a non-pregnant, non-lacting woman has signs of infection or inflammation in one of her breasts, and there is no break in the skin, then Inflammatory Breast Cancer must be totally ruled out. This means diagnostic mammograms, ultrasounds, MRI's, PET scans, and a biopsy should be done.

It's estimated that about 1% - 2% of newly diagnosed invasive breast cancers in the USA are inflammatory breast cancers. The median age range of IBC patients is between 45 - 55 years old, but may be younger or older. The five year median survival rate is approximately 40%, mainly due to delays in diagnosis, the lack of expertise in treating IBC and its resistance to treatment with standard chemotherapy drugs.

Symptoms of IBC

Because Inflammatory Breast Cancer doesn't occur as a breast lump and has a peculiar growth pattern, its symptoms are not typical signs of cancer, and may appear as something else. IBC symptoms may include:

If one or more of these symptoms continue for more than one week, talk to a physician immediately, and find an expert with experience in treating this type of breast cancer.

Diagnosing IBC

Standard diagnostic tests for breast cancer, such as mammograms, MRI and biopsies generally cannot accurately diagnose IBC. The following test are used to make a diagnosis:
Surgical Biopsy - larger samples of the breast skin and underlying tissue can be collected in a surgical or skin biopsy, with better chances for identifying the cancer cells.

PET scan - In the near future, this could be one of the most important diagnostic/staging tests for IBC though it is still under study. PET scans enable oncologists to see more disease.

Learn more about IBC: Erase IBC

Phyllodes Tumor: is a rare tumor that occurs almost exclusively in the female breast. About 90% are benign and 10% are malignant. Phyllodes tumor is the most commonly occuring nonepithelial neoplasm of the breast but accounts for only about 1% of breast tumors. Most often a large tumor with an average size of 5cm. Both benign and malignant tumors will grow aggressively but benign recur locally while malignant ones metastasize and are even more aggressive than the original. The lungs are the most common metastatic site. Symptoms of metastasis may occur from a few months to as late as 12 years after initial therapy and average life span is three years after initial treatment. Roughly 30% of patients with malignant phyllodes tumor die from the disease.

Angiosarcoma (AS): is an uncommon malignant tumor that is aggressive and tends to recur locally, spread widely, and have a high rate of lymph node and systemic metastases. The rate of tumor-related death is high. AS may occur in any region of the body including the breasts. The tumors may develop as a complication from a radical mastectomy and/or chronic lymphedema.

Metaplastic Breast Cancer: is a rare and very different from ductal or lobular breast cancer. it begins in one type of cell, like the ones from the glands of the breasts, and changes into another type of cell. It consists of mixed epithelial cells and cells in the connective tissue of the breast. Because the cells are not part of the normal breast gland, this cancer does not have estrogen or progesterone receptors, or HER-2/Neu.

Metaplastic breast cancer is considered an invasive cancer, meaning that it has already spread beyond the duct or lobe at the time of diagnosis. It accounts for less than 5% of all breast cancers.

Paget's Disease: is an uncommon type of cancer that develops in or around the nipple. More than 95% of people with Paget's Disease also have breast cancer; however, Paget's disease of the nipple account for less than 5% of all breast cancer. Most are diagnosed over the age of 50 with an average age of 62 for women and 69 for men. Rare cases have been diagnosed in patients in thier 20's.

There are two theories for how Paget's Disease develops. One suggests that cancerous "Paget cells", break off from a tumor inside the breast and move through the milk ducts to the surface of the nipple. This is due to the fact that more than 97% of patients with this disease also have underlying invasive breast cancer or DCIS. In rare cases, the tumor is seperate from the nipple or there isno underlying breast cancer, leading to the second theory which suggests that skin cells of the nipple spontaneously become Paget's cells.

Karen Moody ...© All rights reserved