Types of Breast Cancer

Most types of breast cancers are classified as carcinomas that develop in the epithelial cells. When carcinomas develop in the breast they are specifically referred to as adenocarcinomas. Although, breast cancer is referred to as a single disease, it is categorized into non-invasive and invasive breast cancers based on its origin.

  • Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS): It is the most common type of non-invasive breast cancer that develops in the milk ducts of the breast, but do not spread to the surrounding breast tissue.
  • Lobular carcinoma in situ: This type of cancer originates in the lobules and does not spread to the surrounding breast tissue.

Invasive breast cancers: These are the most common type of breast cancers, which can invade the surrounding breast tissues. The following are the common type of invasive breast cancers:

  • Invasive ductal carcinoma: It is the most common form of invasive ductal carcinoma that originates in cells that line the milk duct and spread to the surrounding breast tissues. During this point, cancer may gradually spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream or lymphatics.
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma: This type of cancer accounts for 1 in 10 invasive lobular carcinomas. In this type, cancer originates in lobules and can spread to other parts of the breast or the body.
  • Inflammatory breast cancer: It is a rare, advanced, and aggressive type of breast cancer that originates in the blood vessels of the skin or lymphatic vessels present in the breast. It if often mistaken as an infection of the breast, which causes a delay in the diagnosis.
  • Locally advanced breast cancer: It is an invasive form of breast cancer that has spread to a large part of the breast, invading the overlying skin, underlying chest wall, muscle, and the nodes in the armpit.
  • Metastatic breast cancer: It is the advanced stage where breast cancer has spread into other parts of the body, such as the liver, lungs, brain or bones.

Non-invasive breast cancer (carcinoma in situ): These cancers arise within the milk ducts or lobules, but do not invade the normal cell lining of either the ducts or the lobes. They are further divided into the following types:

There are many other types of cancers such as papillary carcinoma, mucinous carcinoma, micropapillary carcinoma, tubular carcinoma, medullary carcinomas etc which are less common types of breast cancer.

Some rare types of breast cancer include the following:

  • Paget’s disease of the nipple: In this type cancer cells originate in the nipple or areola region. People with Paget’s disease may have an underlying in-situ or invasive breast cancer. Scaly, itchy, red, or irritated nipple or areola region is the first sign of Paget’s disease of the nipple. Accurate diagnosis involves a biopsy of the involved area.
  • Phyllodes tumours: These are the rare type of tumours that accounts for less than one percent of all breast tumours. They develop in the connective tissues of the breast and may rarely spread outside the breast. If malignant, such tumours may spread to the lungs.
  • Angiosarcoma: This is the rarest form of breast cancer that originates in the lining of the blood vessels and lymph vessels.

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