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Breast cancer refers to a malignant tumor resulting from the abnormal growth of cells in the breast. It begins in tissues of the breast, usually in the ducts that convey milk to the nipple during breastfeeding and in the lobules, the glands that generate milk. The cancer is possible to metastasize or spread to other organs of your body.
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These tests below can diagnose cancer cells in the breast:
- Mammogram, which is an image from mammography, can detect uncontrolled growth in the breast tissue.
- Breast ultrasound, which applies sound waves to make an image of the tissue inside the breast, can decide if a breast lump is a solid mass that proves cancerous, or a cyst that is a fluid-filled sac.
- Breast MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), which utilizes both radio waves and powerful magnet to produce several detailed images of the breast, can distinguish between malignant (cancerous) and benign (non-cancerous) areas.
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Common Breast Cancer Types
Here is a list of common types of breast cancer along with symptoms and treatments:
Ductal Carcinoma In-Situ (DCIS)
DCIS is a condition in which cells inside several ducts of the breast grow to be cancer cells. It is an early type of the cancer and is called non-invasive because it has not yet metastasized to other tissues, including the lymph nodes.
Beware of discharge coming out of the nipple and a lump in the breast. Studies have found that mammography can detect about 80% of DCIS cases. Treatment might include mastectomy (removal of the entire breast), lumpectomy (removal of the tumor and tissue around it), radiation, and hormonal therapy.
Invasive (or Infiltrating) Ductal Carcinoma (IDC)
IDC is called invasive since it has spread to other tissues including lymph nodes. It is the most common breast cancer. IDC usually can affect women over 55 years old. Researchers have found that this type comprises approximately 70% to 80% of breast cancers detected.
You must consult your doctor once you have symptoms such as breast pain, swollen breast, a lump in the underarm, a nipple discharge, and redness of the breast skin. Treatment for this type includes surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, biological therapy, hormone therapy, or a combination of the above mentioned treatments.
Lobular Carcinoma In Situ (LCIS)
LCIS starts in the milk-producing glands (lobules), but does not expand outside the wall of the lobules. Despite this, you have a higher risk of having an invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) in the future. LICS does not show any symptoms, but a mammogram can detect it. Your doctor will try to prevent this from occurring by doing a mammogram every one to two years and frequent breast examination. Hormone therapy proves effective to prevent breast cancer.
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Invasive (or Infiltrating) Lobular Carcinoma (ILC)
This type begins in the milk-producing glands (lobules) of the breast and spreads to other tissues of the body. It generally affects women as early as 60 years old. The American Cancer Society explains that ILC is inclined to develop later in life than invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC).
Signs of ILC might include a lump in the underarm, swollen breast, nipple or breast pain, thickening of the breast skin or nipple, a nipple discharge, and skin irritation. Surgery including mastectomy is a common treatment in addition to chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormone therapy, biological therapy, or a combination of those treatments.
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Uncommon Breast Cancer Types
Below are uncommon breast cancer types along with symptoms and treatments:
Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC)
It is a cancer that lacks estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). TNBC is likely to expand to other parts of the body and recur after treatment.
Symptoms that might occur are a nipple discharge, skin irritation, nipple pain, and a new lump or mass. Treatment includes surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.
Paget’s Disease of the Nipple
This type occurs in the nipple or in the areola (the area of darker skin around it). For the first time, it might be itchy, scaly, red, and crusted. Sometimes people mistake it for eczema. Treatment involves mastectomy for effective result.
Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC)
IBC is a very malignant breast cancer leading the lymph vessels in the breast skin to become obstructed. The breast looks red, swollen, and inflamed. Unfortunately, this cancer does not create a lump so it is hard to detect.
If the breast feels warm, appears red or orange, feels tender or hard, and looks swollen, you have to see your doctor so that further treatments can be performed. Treatments for inflammatory breast cancer include chemotherapy for the first procedure followed by surgical procedure, hormone therapy, and radiotherapy.
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The American Cancer Society: Breast Cancer - http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/BreastCancer/DetailedGuide/breast-cancer-what-is-breast-cancer
National Breast Cancer Foundation: Types of Breast Cancer - http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/About-Breast-Cancer/Types.aspx
Cancerhelp.org.uk: Breast Cancer - http://www.cancerhelp.org.uk/type/breast-cancer/about/types/
Breastcancer.org: Types of Breast Cancer - http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/types/