What Type of Breast Cancer Do I Have?

by Yang Wenting on May 13, 2011

There are many types of breast cancer, and they may have vastly different implications. It is categorized by whether it begins in the ducts or lobules, the organs responsible for breast milk production. It may help you work well with your physicians to get treatment to understand the specific type. First, there is information about two very early types called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) and the other particular types of invasive breast cancer. There is also a section about breast cancer in men.

DCIS – ductal carcinoma in situ

DCIS is a type of early breast cancer confined to the inside of the ductal system. If you have DCIS, it means that cells inside some of the ducts of your breast have started to turn into cancer cells. These cells are all inside the ducts and have not started to spread into the surrounding breast tissue. So, there is very little chance that any of the cells have spread to the lymph nodes or elsewhere in the body.

IDC-Invasive ductal breast cancer

Invasive ductal breast cancer and DCIS is not the same thing. IDC is the most common type of breast cancer representing 78% of all malignancies. These lesions appear as satellite (star like) or well-circumscribed (rounded) areas on mammograms. The stellate lesions generally have a poorer prognosis. In invasive ductal breast cancer, the cells have broken out of the ducts and so there is a chance they can spread into nearby lymph nodes or to other parts of the body.

LCIS – lobular carcinoma in situ

It begins in the lobes, or glands which produce milk in the breast. The lobes are located deeper inside the breast, under the ducts. About 8% of breast cancers are lobular. If the cancer is LCIS (lobular carcinoma in situ) that means the cancer is limited within the lobe and has not spread. It may be removed during a lumpectomy, if the tumor margins are clear of cancer, follow-up treatment may include radiation.

ILC-Invasive lobular breast cancer

Infiltrating lobular carcinoma is a type of breast cancer that usually appears as a subtle thickening in the upper-outer quadrant of the breast. This breast cancer type represents 5% of all diagnosis. Often positive for estrogen and progesterone receptors, these tumors respond well to hormone therapy.

Inflammatory breast cancer

IBC is the least common, but most aggressive of breast cancers, taking the form of sheets or nests, instead of lumps. It can start in the soft tissues of the breast, just under the skin, or it can appear in the skin. Unlike ductal and lobular cancers, it is treated first with chemotherapy and then with surgery. When caught early, inflammatory breast cancer can be a manageable disease and survival rates are increasing.

Paget’s disease

The nipple/areola often looks like a skin rash, or rough skin. It resembles eczema, and can be itchy. The itching and scabs (if scratched) are signs that cancer may be under the surface of the skin, and is breaking through. Paget’s is usually treated with a mastectomy, because the cancer has by then invaded the nipple, areola, and the milk ducts. Although Sir James has several other diseases named for him (bone disease and disease of the vulva) those conditions are not related to this condition of the breast.

Medullary Carcinoma

Medullary carcinoma accounts for 15% of all breast cancer types. It most frequently occurs in women in their late 40s and 50s, presenting with cells that resemble the medulla (gray matter) of the brain.

Tubular Carcinoma

Making up about 2% of all breast cancer diagnosis, tubular carcinoma cells have a distinctive tubular structure when viewed under a microscope. Typically this type of breast cancer is found in women aged 50 and above. It has an excellent 10-year survival rate of 95%.

Mucinous Carcinoma (Colloid)

Mucinous carcinoma represents approximately 1% to 2% of all breast carcinoma. This type of breast cancer’s main features is mucus production and cells that are poorly defined. It also has a favorable prognosis in most cases.

Breast cancer in men

In men, breast cancer is very rare. There are about 300 men diagnosed each year in the UK, compared with around 45,700 cases of breast cancer in women

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