A person’s treatment options and prognosis is dependent on the specific type and progression of the breast cancer.
Most breast cancers are carcinomas, which start in the cells which line cells and organs. More specifically, they are often adenocarcinomas, which start in the milk ducts or lobules of milk-producing glands. Less common forms are sarcomas, which start in the cells of connective tissue, fat, or muscle.
When the cancer is described as “in situ,” it means that it hasn’t spread. If it is called invasive or infiltrating, it means the cancer has invaded the surrounding breast tissue.
Breast Cancer Grade
An important piece of advice, a breast cancer’s grade determines how quickly it’s very likely to grow and spread. A grade is decided by checking the cancer cells under a microscope to find out how much the cancer cells look like normal cells. A lower tier number typically means the cancer is slower-growing and less likely to spread. A higher tier number refers to a faster-growing cancer. The grade helps predict prognosis in addition to helps determine which treatments may work best.
Most Common Types
Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a non-invasive or pre-invasive breast cancer. Since DCIS has not spread, it’s the easiest form of cancer to treat successfully.
Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), while the name sounds like cancer, isn’t actually a cancer. In this type, cells which look like cancer cells grow in the lobules of the milk-producing glands but they do not propagate throughout the lobular wall.
Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) is the most common type of breast cancer. It starts in a milk duct, spreads throughout the wall of the duct and invades the fatty tissue of the breast.
Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) begins in the lobules (milk-producing glands) and spreads into outside tissue. These special kinds are often named after specific features which have been identified under the microscope. These sub-types include adenoid cystic carcinoma, low-grade adenosquamous carcinoma, medullary carcinoma, mucinous carcinoma, Wildlife Removal, papillary carcinoma, tubular carcinoma, metaplastic carcinoma, micropapillary carcinoma, and mixed carcinoma (which has features of both ILC and IDC).
Less Common Types
There are a couple of types of breast cancer that occur but are more uncommon. Inflammatory breast cancer (invasive) accounts for roughly one to three percent of all breast cancer. Another, rarer, type of breast cancer is Paget disease of the breast, which begins in the breast ducts and spreads to the skin of the breast and areola. There is also Phyllodes tumor, which can be rare breast tumors that develop in the stroma (connective tissue) of the breast. Finally, there’s angiosarcoma, which starts in the cells which line lymph vessels or blood vessels, but rarely occurs in the breasts.
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