Types of Breast Cancer and Their Symptoms

by on August 6th, 2010
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Breast cancer can occur in different parts of the breast, and the location of the cancer often determines its type. Some are non-invasive cancers, while other are invasive and can spread throughout your breast or other parts of your body. Not all breast cancers are life-threatening, but even so, they may increase your risk for developing a more invasive and threatening type of breast cancer. Many types of breast cancer, even the life-threatening ones, can be successfully treated if they are detected in the earliest stages. Therefore, it is extremely important that you know the signs of breast cancer.

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a type of non-invasive breast cancer. It is not life-threatening. DCIS begins in the milk ducts and has relatively few symptoms, if any. Occasionally, you may notice a lump within the breast or light discharge from the nipple, but it is most commonly found during a routine mammogram. Treatments include removing the lump, radiation therapy, hormone therapy or mastectomy (breast removal). The chances for DCIS recurring are less than 30 percent.

Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) is the most common type of invasive breast cancer. This type of cancer also begins in the milk ducts breaks through to invade other breast tissue as well. It can also spread to your lymph nodes and other parts of your body. The symptoms of IDC include swelling, skin changes such as dimpling, breast or nipple pain, redness, nipple discharge or a lump near the under arm. Treatments for IDC are similar to those for DCIS and include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and hormone therapy. There are some less common sub categories of IDC which include tubular, medullary, mucinous, papillary and cribriform carcinomas.

Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) is the second most common type of invasive breast cancer. It begins in the lobules where breast milk is produced and spreads. The symptoms are similar to those of IDC but ILC does not generally form a lump. Treatments are the same as those for IDC.

Inflammatory breast cancer is more rare and very aggressive. The first symptoms are usually redness and swelling of the breast, which get worse in a matter of days, sometimes hours. Other symptoms include a breast that feels warm to the touch, skin on the breast that looks like an orange peel. swelling of the lymph nodes, inversion of the nipple and aching or burning. A combination of treatments must be used that include radiation, surgery and chemotherapy.

Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) is sometimes considered a non-invasive type of breast cancer, but in truth it is not actually a cancer, but does increase the risk for breast cancer later in life. Abnormal cells begins to grow in the lobules. It is also referred to as lobular neoplasia and is uncommon. It does not cause symptoms and is rarely seen on a mammogram. It is diagnosed by biopsy, usually when the breast is biopsied for some other reason.

It is important to know the signs of breast cancer and be able to tell the difference. Inflammatory breast cancer requires immediate attention because it is so aggressive. Ductal carcinoma is not invasive but still requires treatment. IDC and ILC can be treated and with early detection you may just save your life.


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