Types of Breast Cancer and What They Mean

Breast cancer is not just one disease with one set of treatments and a set prognosis. Instead there are different types of breast cancer and their prognosis can depend upon their type, their invasiveness, how much they have progressed and so on. Breast cancers differ based on their nature, invasiveness, whether they recur or whether they metastasize.

Common types of breast cancer

Ductal Carcinoma is the one of the most common type of breast cancer and it called “ductal because it is located in the milk ducts that supply milk to the nipple. 80% of all breast cancers are this type. When speaking of ductal carcinoma it is invasive or infiltrating carcinoma that is being referred to and this means that the cancer has spread to the surrounding tissue. This kind of cancer can also affect men.

Types of Breast CancerDuring the early stages of the disease it is known as ductal carcinoma in situ (meaning original place). At this stage the cancer is located only in the ducts, is non-invasive and has not spread to surrounding tissue. It is easily treatable and is not necessarily going to turn invasive.

Lobular Carcinoma is another of the types of breast cancer and refers to cancer that starts in the milk producing lobules and which has then spread to other areas of the breast. This cancer type can spread to the lymph nodes and spread further over time.

When the disease is non-invasive and confined to the place of origin it is known as lobular carcinoma in situ.

The above kinds of breast cancer can be treated with a lumpectomy, which is conservative breast surgery if detected early, but if the cancer has spread, a mastectomy to remove the entire breast may be needed.

Rarer types of breast cancer

Inflammatory breast cancer refers to a rare type of cancer that first makes an appearance with swelling, or reddening of the breast rather than the lump or mass that we usually associate with breast cancer. This is a rapidly spreading disease and symptoms may worsen in days or even hours and so prompt treatment for this type of cancer is of the essence.

Paget’s disease is a condition in which the cancer affects the nipple and in which the nipple and its surrounding area can become scaly, red and irritated. Less that 5% of cases of breast cancer are of this kind, however most of those who have Paget’s disease also typically has some other type of breast cancer.

Phylloides tumor or Cystosarcoma phyllodes is another one of the rare types of breast cancer and less than 1% of all cases of braest cancer may be of this type. Only some of these tumors are cancerous, most being benign. The tumors grow in a leaf like pattern. They are seen to grow quite quickly and surgery may be required to prevent recurrence even if the tumors are non-malignant.

The types of breast cancer that return even after treatment are known as recurrent breast cancers. Those that spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body are known as metastatic breast cancer.