Types of breast cancer

Awareness about the different types of breast cancer and their differences will help in determining the best mode of treatment. If breast cancer is suspected, the next thing your doctor does is sending a tissue sample of the lump to a pathologist. Such a test will give the exact picture of the condition. The pathological test guides the doctor to decide on your treatment plan. The biopsy report details on matters such as the type of the disease, if it is invasive or not, grade of the tumour based on the similarity of affected cells to ordinary ones, sensitivity to hormonal therapies, amount of protein called HER-2 present in it etc.

The most common type of breast cancer starts either in the breast milk ducts (ductal carcinoma) or in the glands that produce milk (Lobular carcinoma). The starting point is determined by the appearance of the cancerous cells under a microscope. In case of non-invasive breast cancer, the cancer cells remain within their place of origin. They do not spread to the milk duct or lobule. Ductal Carcinoma In Situ is the most commonly found kind of non-invasive breast cancer. This disease is confined to the lining of the milk duct.

Invasive breast cancers easily spread out of the membrane that lines the milk duct or the lobule. The surrounding tissues are all affected. The cancerous cells even reach the lymph nodes. Around seventy per cent of the total breast cancer patients suffer from Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. The cancer cells get transported mainly through blood or lymph.

Invasive Lobular Carcinoma is yet another kind of the disease which is comparatively less common. Originating from the milk-producing lobules, they break into the surrounding tissues as well. In this case, a clear firm lump is not visible, but the full area gets thickened.

Less common types of breast cancer are those that get originated from the fibrous connective tissue, blood vessels or lymphatic system which all serves as supporting tissues. In certain cases, the cancerous cells get spread to the breast from other parts like skin, colon, lymph, lungs etc. Rare types of breast cancer include inflammatory breast cancer, phyllodes tumor, angiosarcoma, adenoid cystic carcinoma Paget’s disease of the breast, osteosarcoma and metaplastic breast cancer. Unusual subdivisions of invasive ductal carcinoma are classified as tubular, medullary, mucinous and papillary.

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