The different types of breast cancer are distinguished on the basis of how the cancer cells look under the microscope. Most Breast Cancers start in the epithelial cells in the lining of the organs and tissues. These are known as carcinomas. When these carcinomas start in the glandular tissues they are called adenocarcinoma, and when they start in the cells of the muscles, fats or connective tissue, they are called sacromas. Below you’ll find a detailed description of the dif-ferent types of breast cancers.
Non-Invasive Breast Cancer (Carcinoma in Situ)
Non-Invasive breast cancer, also known as carcinoma in situ (in the same place), is the type of cancer which remains within the milk ducts or the lobules of the breast. It doesn’t spread out onto the surrounding tissues, it doesn’t ‘invade’ normal tissues, hence “non-invasive.” These are also sometimes called Pre-Cancers. These can further be classified into Ductal and Lobular Carcinomas.
Lobular Carcinoma In Situ (LCIS): LCIS originates in the lobules, that is, the milk-producing glands at the end of breast ducts. Generally more than one lobules get affected at the same time. However, being non-invasive in nature it means the cancer isn’t spreading to neighbouring tissues and thus isn’t a life-threat. This is more of a warning that the person is at higher risk of developing breast cancer later in life. Another term for LCIS is “lobular neoplasia” which more accurately classifies the cells as simply abnormal in nature, not necessarily cancerous. This is relatively uncommon and isn’t generally accompanied by any overt signs, and is mostly identi fied as a result of a Biopsy performed for entirely different reasons.
Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC): This accounts for just about 10% of Invasive Breast Can-cers and is thus quite rare. These start in the lobules or the Milk glands and spread outwards onto the neighbouring tissues. As a result of this the breast has a swelling affect, rather than the development of a lump.
Invasive Breast Cancer
This can mean that the cancer that is present has grown in the normal tissue and some of the cancer may have remained in the milk lobules and milk ducts.
These can also be further classified into Ductal and Lobular Carcinomas.
Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC): This makes up for about 80% of all Invasive Breast Can-cers. In these, the cancer cells originate in the milk ducts, but instead of being contained they break out of the walls and invade the surrounding tissues. These may remain localised to the area where the cancer cells originated, however if they are allowed to advance they can even spread to other parts of the body.
Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS): This is the more common of the two Non-Invasive breast cancers and it originates in the milk ducts. It is Non-Invasive hence it hasn’t spread to any of the surrounding tissues beyond the milk ducts. While DCIS is not life-threatening in and of itself, if left untended it can potentially grow into an Invasive Breast Cancer. If you have had DCIS, then you are at higher risk than most of contracting Cancer again in some other part of the breast. The risk of recurrence within 5 to 10 years after diagnosis is below 30%.
Inflammatory Breast Cancer
This is an extremely rare but extremely aggressive form of breast cancer. Instead of the formation of a distinct lump, Inflammatory Breast Cancer usually begins with the reddening and swelling of the breasts. This can grow at a rapid pace and the symptoms may accelerate within days and sometimes even a couple of hours. If the slightest of symptom is noticed, it is imperative that you seek treatment immediately. The average age of diagnosis of Inflammatory Breast Cancer is also approximately 5 years earlier than that of other forms of cancer.
The symptoms of Inflammatory Breast Cancer may include oedema and erythema, that is, red-ness and swelling. The surface of the skin would appear as if bruised, along with a colouration of reddish-purple, pink, or even brown. The surface of the skin may seem pitted and dimpled. This is a result of the lymph (fluid) build up underneath the skin because the cancer cells block the lymph vessels, thus preventing the passage of lymph through the tissues. As a result of all of this the breast may appear swollen, and feel heavy. The nipple may be inverted inwards and the lymph nodes around the armpits or collar bones may be swollen.
Paget’s Disease of the Breast
This is yet another rare form of Breast Cancer in which the cancer cells collect around the nip-ple. The ducts are the first to be affected, and then the cancer cells spread out to the nipple sur-face, followed by the areola (the dark circle of skin surrounding the nipple). As a result of this the nipple becomes red, scaly, and itchy. It may appear as if there’s a rash on the nipple. While this is relatively rare, it is crucial that any of these symptoms be immediately reported because Paget’s Disease is generally accompanied by a cancer — either DCIS or Invasive — in another part of the breast as well.
The two popular theories for the cause of Paget’s Disease are:
• That it originates in the milk ducts and then spreads out to the surface of the nipple.
• That it originates in the cells of the nipple itself, which is why sometimes it is not accompanied by cancer anywhere else.
To learn about Paget’s disease in further details you may follow this link: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pagets-disease-of-the-nipple/Pages/introduction.aspx