Types and Stages of Breast Cancer

Types and Stages of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. Cancer can be simply explained as misbehaving maniac cells that follow no normal pattern of life with continuous multiplication and extended life. Once being diagnosed with breast cancer, the treatment options are decided depending up on a number of factors including the type of the cancer, its location, its spread or the stage of the cancer etc.

Firstly the oncologist determines if the cancer is invasive or non-invasive.

Non-invasive breast cancer – Like the name hints, when the cancer is in the non-invasive stage, it means the cancerous cells are still contained to their site of origin. Typically referred as non-invasive In situ breast cancer, this type of cancer has not spread to the surrounding tissues, if not detected at this stage, it can eventually spread further. Ductal and lobular carcinoma is the two most common types of breast cancer.

Ductal carcinoma – ductal carcinoma is the most common type of cancer. Almost more than 85 % of the cases of breast cancer have ductal origin or ductal carcinoma in situ. The ducts lie underneath the areola of the breast and the nipple, and are the milk ducts to the nipple. DCIS or the ductal carcinoma in situ is a non invasive cancer, which can be treated by removing the cells in focus or the lump of the cells and further radiation. If this type of cancer has further grown to invasive stage and has spread to the surrounding tissues chemotherapy and mastectomy (removal of the breast) may be advised.

Types and Stages of Breast Cancer

Lobular carcinoma – lobular carcinoma is lesser common than the ductal carcinoma. Here the cells of the lobes that produce milk are affected. The lobular carcinoma, if not treated timely, can further spread to the nearby tissues of the breast.

Invasive breast cancer – Invasive type of cancer spreads beyond the site of origin to the surrounding tissues and organs further. Inflammatory cancer is an invasive type of breast cancer where the soft tissues of the breast are the target cells.

The stage of cancer depends on the size of the cancer, whether it is non-invasive or invasive, if the lymph nodes are affected or if the cancer has spread beyond to other organs and parts of the body. Stage 0 describes the non-invasive stage where the cancer is contained only to the site of origin as in DCIS and the LCIS. In stage I and stage II the cancer is in the initial phase of invasive stage.

The tumor is measured less than 2 cm in stage I, between 2 cm and 5 cm in stage II, and the lymph nodes may or may not be involved. In stage III the tumor is measured larger in size and the axillary lymph nodes may be affected. In stage IV breast cancer, the metastasis of the cancer cells may have occurred to the other organs like skin, bones, lungs, ribs etc. TNM staging of cancer is based on the size of tumor (T), the involvement of lymph node (L) and the grade of metastasis (M).

Types and Stages of Breast Cancer

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