Breast Cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers in women today. It affects almost 13,000 women under the age of 40 on a yearly basis. Breast cancer makes up for 40 % of all cancer cases in women in this age group. In fact, 1 in 8 women are at the risk of developing breast cancer. Which is why it is extremely important for young girls and women to arm themselves with all there is to know about breast cancer.
Breast cancer is the cancer that specifically targets and settles in the breasts of an individual. The cancer cells form in the lobules, the glands that are responsible for milk production and milk ducts of the breasts from where they may or may not spread out to other parts of the body starting from the chest and under arms. The cancer forms in the first place due to mutations in the individual’s genes that lead to unregulated growth, division and multiplication of cells, these cells are cancer cells.
Like all cancers Breast cancer also has different types of cancers, invasive, non invasive, metastasized and so on. There are many different ways to describe the cancers and it’s fairly easy to get confused.
So we thought we’d give you a short but comprehensive guide on the different kinds of cancers classified under Breast cancer. As they say, knowledge is power.
How is the Type of Breast Cancer determined?
It’s determined by the specific cells in the breast that are affected. Most breast cancer cases are often carcinomas i.e. tumors that start in the epithelial cells. Epithelial cells are those cells that line organs and tissues throughout one’s body. When carcinomas form in the breast, they are usually a very specific type known as adenocarcinoma, that occur in the milk ducts and lobules as mentioned above.
Non- Invasive Breast Cancer Or Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (Dcis)
Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) also known as Intraductal Carcinoma is a non-invasive or pre-invasive breast cancer that starts in a milk duct and has not grown into the rest of the breast tissue.
Invasive Breast Cancer (ILC or IDC)
Invasive (or infiltrating) breast cancer is the kind that goes beyond the are it starts and ends up spreading into the surrounding breast tissue. The most common types are Invasive Ductal Carcinoma and Invasive Lobular Carcinoma. In fact, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma makes up about 70-80% of all breast cancers.
Special Types Of Invasive Breast Cancers
Some invasive breast cancers have special features or develop in different ways that affect their treatment and outlook. These cancers are less common but can be more serious than other types of breast cancer.
- Triple-negative Breast Cancer
Triple-negative breast cancer is an aggressive type of invasive breast cancer and makes up about 15% of all breast cancers. Triple-negative breast cancer is cancer that tests negative for estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and excess HER2 protein. Which means that it is not a cancer that driven by hormonal excesses and cannot be treated with hormone therapy. Triple-negative Breast Cancer is a difficult cancer to treat.
2.Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Inflammatory breast cancer is an uncommon invasive breast cancer. A rare and incredibly aggressive disease in which cancer cells block lymph vessels in the skin of the breast. It is called “inflammatory” cancer because the affected breast often looks swollen and red, or inflamed. Inflammatory breast cancer accounts for about 1% to 5% of all breast cancers.
Less Common Types Of Breast Cancer
These cancers are much less common, and sometimes need different types of treatment, they often affect different kinds of cells from the ones mentioned above.
- Paget Disease Of The Breast
Paget disease of the breast starts in the breast ducts and spreads to the skin of the nipple and then to the areola (the dark circle around the nipple). Giving the outwardly appearance of eczema, with skin changes especially around the nipple of the breast. A rare cancer that accounts for 1-3% of all cases of breast cancer.
- Phyllodes Tumor
Phyllodes tumors are rare breast tumors. They develop in the connective tissue i.e. the stroma of the breast, in contrast to carcinomas, which develop in the ducts or lobules. Most are benign, but there are others that are malignant which are cancerous.
Sarcomas in the breast are rare, they make up less than 1% of all breast cancers. Angiosarcoma starts in the cells that line blood vessels or lymph vessels it can also involve the breast tissue or skin of the breast. Angiosarcomas can be related to prior radiation therapy in that area.
While normal breast tissue can be lumpy, it is important to know how and what your breasts feel like on a daily basis. Once you know the general shape and feel of them, figuring out recent developments or changes will be easier.
While the changes in your breast don’t conclusively prove anything, it is good to be aware and proactive about them. This way finding a lump or change in the existing lump size will be more effective as well, which is why a lot of women do self breast exams in the first place. Visiting your doctor promptly is important so that the changes can be evaluated professionally. Bi-annual mammograms are also a good option.