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Breast Cancer

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Breast Cancer 101 

Breast cancer is an inescapable reality for millions of women. This guide contains information regarding early detection, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of breast cancer that you should know to make informed decisions about your care. 

 

What is Breast Cancer? 

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women around the world. In the United States, about 287,850 women will be diagnosed with new cases of invasive breast cancer this year. (About one percent of breast cancer cases occur in men.) This cancer occurs when cells in breast tissue divide and grow uncontrollably, which makes them capable of spreading to other parts of the body. Breast cancer is often diagnosed at an early stage, when it is highly curable, though some forms are aggressive and spread (or metastasize) rapidly.  Breast cancer can occur in both breasts at the same time, though it is more commonly found in just one. 

 

Types of Breast Cancer 

Breast cancer is divided into two main groups, known as invasive and noninvasive. 

  • Invasive breast cancers: These are breast cancers that can spread to other tissues and organs. 
  • Ductal invasive breast cancer: Also called “invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast,” this is the most common type of breast cancer, accounting for 70 to 80 percent of cases. This cancer starts in the cells in the membrane of the milk ducts and spreads to surrounding breast tissue. In invasive ductal breast cancer, the cells can migrate from the ducts and spread to lymph nodes or other tissues and organs. 
  • Lobular invasive breast cancer: Also called “invasive lobular carcinoma of the breast,” this malignancy accounts for about one out of every 10 invasive breast cancer cases. It is frequently diagnosed in women between the ages of 45 and 55. This cancer starts in the cells in the membrane of the breast lobes and can spread to the surrounding breast tissue. 

 

  • Noninvasive breast cancers: These cancers remain in the tissue where they formed and do not spread. 
  • Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS): These cancers occur when cells in the breast’s milk ducts begin to grow uncontrollably. While DCIS is not life threatening, being diagnosed with it means you have an increased risk for invasive breast cancer later on in life. 
  • Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS): This cancer occurs when cells within the breast lobe begin to grow uncontrollably. While doctors consider LCIS to be non-cancerous, being diagnosed with it means you are at increased risk for breast cancer in the future. 
  • Atypical lobular hyperplasia: Similar to LCIS, though it features fewer abnormal cells and carries a somewhat lower risk for future invasive breast cancer.  

 

Sources: American Cancer Society, Breastcancer.org