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UNDERSTANDING BREAST CANCER

A diagnosis of breast cancer can be overwhelming and leave you with many different feelings including a feeling of having your prefect world being turned upside down. Where do you start, who has the answers, what is breast cancer anyway?

Breast cancer is a disease with many types. Starting in the breast, the cells become abnormal, multiply uncontrollably and eventually forma tumor. If left untreated, the cells can spread to other areas of the body.

Each type of breast cancer is identified by the cells in the breast that become malignant. Here we will review the types of breast cancer to help you better understand each one.


DCIS-Ductal carcinoma in situ- this is the non-invasive breast cancer. Ductal means the cancer started in the milk ducts. DCIS is called “non-invasive” because it hasn’t spread beyond the milk duct and it is not life threatening but having DCIS can increase your risk of developing an invasive cancer later on.


IDC-Invasive ductal carcinoma-or sometimes called infiltrating ductal carcinoma. This is the most common type of breast cancer (about 80% of breast cancers). Invasive means it has spread to the surrounding breast tissue. If not treated, IDC can spread to the lymph nodes and possibly other areas of the body.


ILC-Invasive lobular carcinoma-or sometimes called infiltrated lobular carcinoma. This is the second most common form of breast cancer. ILC is cancer that has broken through the wall of the lobule and begun to invade the breast tissue. ILC can spread to the lymph nodes and through the rest of the body.


IBC-Inflammatory Breast Cancer- this a rare form of breast cancer but aggressive. IBC starts with redness and swelling of the breast instead of a lump. IBC usually grows and spreads quickly. Symptoms can worsen in days or hours even.

LCIS- Lobular carcinoma situ- areas of abnormal cell growth that increases a person chance of developing breast cancer later in life. The abnormal growth usually remains in the lobule and does not spread to other tissue. This is not really a “True” breast cancer, but rather and indication that a person is at higher risk than average.


Male Breast Cancer- it is rare, less than 1% of breast cancer occur in men. Men (and boys) do not make much of the breast-stimulating hormones. Sometimes you see a male with a mound similar to a breast, usually this is just a mound of fat. However, sometimes this can develop into a breast gland tissue due to medication or abnormal levels of hormones.


Paget’s Disease- a rare form of breast cancer where the cancer cells collect in or around the nipple. The cancer usually effects the ducts of the nipple first, then spreads to the nipple surface and the areola. The nipple and areola become scaly, itchy, red and irritated. Doctor’s are not yet sure how this disease develops.


Phyllodes Tumors- tumors of the breast that are rare. It is a tumor that grows in a leaf like manner. They grow quickly but rarely spread outside the breast. Most tumors are benign however some may be malignant or borderline between.


According to the American Cancer Society about 10% of all invasive breast cancers are invasive lobular carcinomas and 80% are invasive ductal carcinomas. 180,000 women in the US are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.


Reference: breastcancer.org

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