Understand the Different Types of Breast Cancer
We can categorize types of breast cancers in several ways: By where they originate, by whether the cancer cells are isolated to one area or have spread, and by the tumor's hormonal status.
Origins of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer typically begins in the lobes, lobules, or ducts of the breast. When patients have abnormal cells in the milk duct, which have not spread, they are diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). DCIS is the most common type of breast cancer, although there is controversy about whether DCIS is really cancer and whether physicians should continue to treat it aggressively.
Lobular carcinoma (cancer) begins in the breast lobes or lobules and affects both breasts about 30 percent of the time. Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) is not really cancer, but a condition that raises your risk of developing cancer.
Approximately 25 percent of women with LCIS will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives. LCIS is not visible on a mammogram; physicians typically find it during a biopsy for some other reason.
Cancer can also form in the muscles, fat, or blood vessels of the breast. The tissue type where cancer originates determines how a cancer will behave and influences treatment decisions.
Breast Cancer's Spread
Non-invasive cancer means cancer cells remain in their place of origin and not spread. DCIS and LCIS are both non-invasive cancers. In patients with invasive cancer, the cells have spread (metastasized) beyond the membrane that lines the ducts or lobules where the tumor originated. Invasive breast cancer is generally very serious.
Hormone Status of Breast Cancer
Some breast cancers need hormones to grow. These tumors have receptors for estrogen, progesterone, or both. If they have more receptors than normal, the cancer may grow quickly.
- Estrogen receptor (ER) positive cancer is sensitive to estrogen.
- progesterone receptor (PG) positive cancer is sensitive to progesterone.
- hormone receptor (HR) negative doesn't have hormone receptors so treatments that block hormones have no effect.
If you have ER or PG positive breast cancers, your oncologist may recommend hormone therapy, which removes hormones or blocks their action and stops cancer cells from growing.
Breast Cancer Treatment
Because there are so many types of breast cancers, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment. Each woman's oncologist recommends an individual course of treatment, which may include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or hormone therapy-alone or in combination.
National Cancer Institute. "Breast Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)." Web. 22 March 2012. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/breast/Patient
National Cancer Institute. "What You Need To Know About Breast Cancer." Web. 15 October 2009. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/breast
Mayo Clinic. "Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)." Web. 23 June 2011.
Mayo Clinic. "Breast cancer types: What your type means." Web. 9 February 2012. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/breast-cancer/HQ00348
Nelson, Roxanne. "Problems With DCIS Misdiagnosis: When Cancer Is Not Cancer." Medscape Medical News. Web. 29 July 2010.
Stanford Medicine. "Lobular Carcinoma in situ (LCIS)." Web.
Sign Up for Free Newsletters
Ask Your Doctor the RIGHT Questions!
the most from your doctor visit.
Emailed right to you!
The Ask Your Doctor email series
may contain sponsored content.
18+, US residents only please.
Explore Original Articles About...
Get the MOST from QualityHealth
- Top Searches
- 1. Arthritis Management: Nature Heals
- 2. 5 Digestive To-Dos
- 3. Men: Should You Shave It or Leave It?
- 4. Today's Top Fitness Trends
- 5. Sugar and Osteoarthritis : The Link
- 6. Can't Afford Your Hospital Bills?
- 7. Stay Energized All Day Long
- 8. Phobias: Who Has Them and Why?
- 9. What If Your EpiPen Fails?
- 10. 5 Costly Medical Billing Mistakes
- 1. Ice Falls Can Cause Serious Injuries
- 2. Can Inactivity Act Like a Disease?
- 3. Kale Snack Recipe for Diabetics
- 4. How Running Affects Arthritis
- 5. Sugar and Your Immunity System
- 6. Do Weight Loss Supplements Work?
- 7. 5 Super Foods for Spring
- 8. The Hazards of Reusable Bags
- 9. How to Avoid Ingrown Hairs
- 10. Health Tip: Constantly Change Shoes
- 1. 4 Common Treatments for Epilepsy
- 2. What Does a Urogynecologist Do?
- 3. GERD Without Heartburn? It's Possible
- 4. Graston Technique: Can It Work on You?
- 5. Music Therapy Can Help Autism
- 6. 8 Ways to Fight MS-Related Fatigue
- 7. Can You Still Bleed After Menopause?
- 8. Be Your Own Health Care Advocate
- 9. Why Is Syphillis on the Rise?
- 10. Ideal Weight vs. Happy Weight
The material on the QualityHealth Web site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a physician or other qualified health provider. See additional information.