Breast Cancer – How to Succeed – Part 3

Breast Cancer – How to Succeed – Part 3


The accepted form of Breast Cancer classification divides all the different forms of breast cancer into four distinct groups, viz. pathology, the particular grade of the tumor, the expression (by which information from a gene is used in the synthesis of a gene product, such as a protein) of proteins and genes, and the stage at which the tumor has reached. Each of these groupings is in accordance with different criteria and each serves a different purpose. Such classifications are normally based on the histological (anatomy of the cells) appearance of the tissue in the tumor.

Rare variants may be identified as a result of a physical examination. A typical example is that of Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC). This is a particular form of a malignant cancer which is found in the ducts. This variant is distinguished from other carcinomas by the inflamed appearance of the affected breast.

Consider now the four groups in turn:

Pathology – A pathologist will identify each tumor according to its histological appearance, and other characteristics. The most common forms of breast cancer are: (a) a malignant (become progressively worse and potentially result in death) cancer in the breast’s ducts (is a channel leading from an organ), and (b) a malignant cancer in the breast’s lobules (is a clear anatomical division only visible histologically.

Tumor’s Grade – The histological grade of a tumor is normally ascertained by a pathologist using a microscope, and applying the Bloom-Richardson grading system which examines the particular cell and tissue structure of the cancer in order to determine how aggressive and invasive the cancer may be. According to this system:
a low grade tumor closely resembles normal tissue
a high grade tumor consists of unstructured cells and therefore does not look like normal tissue
an intermediate grade tumor is positioned in between

Protein and gene expression – It is recommended that all breast cancers for the detectable effect of the estrogen receptor (a group of protein molecules that are activated by the hormone estrogen) ER, progesterone receptor (is a steroid that specifically binds progesterone) PR, and HER2/neu (is a protein associated with higher aggressiveness in breast cancers) proteins. The pathologist’s report contains the results from these tests. A particular tumors expression profile forms the basis whereby the outcome can be predicted. In this way, an oncologist (is a branch of medicine dealing with tumors associated with cancer) may, more effectively, choose the most appropriate treatment of the tumor.

The stage the tumor has reached – The system used to determine the stage at which the cancer has reached is the TNM classification of Malignant Tumors (TNM). This is a particular system that has been designed to describe the extent to which a cancer has spread throughout a patient’s body.

It is defined by:

“T” identifies the size of the tumor and whether or not it has invaded surrounding tissue
“N” describes which lymph nodes (act as filters or traps for foreign particles) are involved
“M” describes the incidence of metastasis (which is the spread of a disease from one organ to another organ which is not in the immediate vicinity. It is only possible for malignant tumour cells and infections to have the ability to metastasize)

Breast Cancer – How to Succeed – Part 3

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