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Types of Breast Cancer

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 24 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Breast Cancer forms Of Breast Cancer

The most common forms of breast cancer begin in the parts of the breast related to lactation, or milk production. Ductal carcinoma begins in the milk ducts while lobular carcinoma begins in the glands that produce milk. Regardless of the point of origin, both forms can be either in situ (non-invasive) or invasive. There are also some rarer forms of breast cancer such as inflammatory breast cancer, Paget's Disease, medullary breast cancer, lymphoma of the breast, basal type breast cancer and tubular breast cancer.

Ductal Carcinoma In Situ

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a very early form of breast cancer that originates in the cells of the milk ducts. These cells are still only in the ducts and have not spread into the lymph nodes or to any other area of the body. Usually DCIS is diagnosed after is revealed in a mammogram. DCIS can be categorised into high grade (more likely to come back), intermediate grade and low grade. Mastectomy, or the removal of the breast, is one way of treating DCIS as is removing the area of DCIS as well as some of the surrounding tissues. Radiotherapy may then be recommended to kill any abnormal cells that were not removed.

Lobular Carcinoma In Situ

Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) originates when cells grow out of control, such as in cancer, but may be referred to as "pre-cancer". Generally these cell changes are discovered when a woman has a biopsy or when a breast lump is removed. Some doctors may recommend that women with LCIS should engage in hormone therapy in the hopes that it will lower the risk of developing any other abnormal cell growth associated with breast cancer. Breast self exams every month, clinical breast examinations twice yearly and mammogram's every year to two years are also recommended.

Ductal Carcinoma

Ductal carcinoma is an invasive form of breast cancer that makes up approximately 75% of all breast cancer cases. In this form, cancer originates in the cells that line the milk duct but may have spread to the lymph notes or otherwise spread into other areas. Generally Ductal carcinoma is of no particular type, and thus may also be referred to as ductal carcinoma NOS (not otherwise specified). Treatments for this type of breast cancer may include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and/or hormone therapy. Treatment will depend upon the stage of the cancer.

Lobular Breast Cancer

Lobular breast cancer is an invasive form of breast cancer that makes up approximately 10% of all breast cancer cases. It originates in the cells that line the lobules of the breast and may have spread to the lymph nodes or otherwise spread into other areas. This form of breast cancer is most often found in women between the ages of 45 and 55, but it can be found in women of any age and may also be found in men (though this is rare). Lobular breast cancer may be discovered after feeling a breast lump or after finding calcifications in a mammogram. This type of cancer may be found in more than one area of the breast, or it may be found in both breasts. Treatment will depend upon the area and stage of the cancer. Surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and/or hormone therapy are all options for treating lobular breast cancer.

Rarer Forms of Breast Cancer

There are also a number of rarer forms of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer means that cancer cells block the lymph channels in the breast meaning that excess fluid can not be drained and breasts may become swollen, red, hard and hot. Paget's Disease is a breast cancer that begins in the nipple. Medullary breast cancer involves cancer cells that are larger than normal and form tumours that contain white cells. Lymphoma of the breast involves both lymphoid and breast tissues. Basal type breast cancer involves cancer cells that contain genetic changes. Tubular breast cancer involves cancer cells that have a tubular shape. Other rare forms of breast cancer also exist.

There are many types of breast cancer, but the most common originate in the ducts or lobules of the breast and are either in situ or invasive. Further information about breast cancer can be obtained from any medical professional, specialist breast clinic or cancer support service.

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