Women's Health

What are the Different Types of Breast Cancer?

What are the Different Types of Breast Cancer?

Key Takeaways

  • There are several types of breast cancer that can be invasive and non-invasive.
  • Certain breast cancers, if caught early, can be cured.
  • Cancer cells can spread throughout the body.

Appropriate treatment options for breast cancer differ depending on what type of cancer the individual has. A biopsy of the tissue samples from the breast helps to identify the type of breast cancer. Most breast cancers bloom in the ducts that connect lobules to the nipple in the breast. It is rare for some cancers to begin in the glands, however, some others bloom in breast tissue. One factor that helps doctors to determine the specific treatment option, is to see if the cancer has spread from the breast tissue to any other parts of the body. There are two types based on the spread of cancer:

  • Non-invasive breast cancer — This is also known as situ breast cancer. In this form of cancer, cells remain in their original place, instead of spreading to other tissues.
  • Invasive breast cancer — The cancer cells have spread to the surrounding tissues, in addition to the outside of the membrane, which can lead to the cancer moving to different parts of the body.

In some rare cases, tumors found in the breast tissue can be a combination of the two types of cancer. Some common types of breast cancer include:

  • Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) — This is a pre-invasive form of breast cancer in which the cells lining the ducts become cancerous. DCIS may develop into an invasive cancer at a later stage. If diagnosed at an early stage, DCIS can be cured completely.
  • Invasive ductal carcinoma — This type of cancer originates in the milk ducts, where they can spread to the surrounding fatty tissues. Invasive ductal carcinoma is one of the most common forms of breast cancer.
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma — Cancerous cells in this type of cancer originates in the milk glands. This invasive form of cancer is relatively difficult to be diagnosed, when compared to invasive ductal carcinoma.

Some of the less common types of breast cancer include:

  • Inflammatory breast cancer — This is an aggressive form of breast cancer, where the cancer cells infiltrate the skin and lymph vessels. This form of cancer requires aggressive treatment, which will ultimately improve the success rate considerably.
  • Triple-negative breast cancer — The term triple-negative refers to the lack of receptors and proteins in the cancer cells. The cells lack estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and have an excess of the protein HER2 on the cell surface. This form of cancer spreads more rapidly compared to other cancers, and most of the conventional methods of treatment are not as effective to control it.
  • Paget disease of the nipple — This cancer begins in the ducts and then spreads to the nipple and areola. In most cases, this form of cancer is associated with DCIS or invasive ductal carcinoma.
  • Phyllodes tumor — This type of tumor originates in the connective tissues of the breast. There is a slight chance that the tumor can turn malignant at a later stage.
  • Angiosarcoma — Cancer cells develop from the lining of the blood or lymph vessels in this form. This type of sarcoma is rare in the breast.