Body tissues in humans above the chest (pectoral) muscles are referred as breast. This body part in the females consists of connective glandular tissues and fat. It is made up of around 20 lobes and many ducts. These lobes have many tiny segments known as lobules which further ends in various small bulbs that produce milk (in female breasts). The lobes, lobules, and bulbs are linked by thin pipes called ducts. On one side these breast tissues are connected from collarbone and reaches out till lower ribs, sternum (breastbone) and armpit.
What is Breast Cancer?
Human body has a self mechanism where unhealthy cells die after some time and these cells are replaced by healthy cells produced by normal (healthy) cells. In this way good cells keep multiplying and body function works fine. Once this arrangement is changed in the body due to failure of checking genes (genes alteration); abnormal (unhealthy & sick) cells start multiplying rapidly crowding out good cells.
Breast cancer is an ailment in which malignant (cancer) cells develops in the tissues of the breast. In female breasts, cancer normally develops in the glands (lobules) or the tube-shaped ducts. It is uncommon to have cancer in the breast’s fatty and fibrous connective tissues. Mainly breast cancer is found in women but men can also be affected by the disease.
In what way primary (localized) breast cancer is different from secondary (metastatic) breast cancer?
When a person has primary tumour, it is localized (mostly early stage) which means not spread to distant part of the body. On the other hand when breast cancer cells split away from the primary tumour, they enter the lymphatic system and transported through bloodstream to different parts of the body.
Metastasis also called metastatic cancer, is a medical term that describes the cancer that has expanded to the surrounding tissues or lymph nodes from the original place it has started. This process of spreading the cancer to a new part of the body due to cells rupture is called metastasis.
Different Types of Breast Cancer
Generally breast cancers are carcinomas which mean that they originate in the cells present on the lining the organ/tissues.
1. Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS)
Most commonly found, this type of cancer is non-invasive that develop in a milk duck. Non-invasive breast cancer refers to a condition when cells are abnormal but not spread around. This type has huge treatment success rate if attended at early stage.
2. Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC)
Approximately 80 % of the invasive breast cancer comes under this category which is also known as Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma. This IDC type and subtypes of cancer develops in a milk duck and breaks through the duct wall and spread nearby tissues. IDC-subtypes include:
- Tubular Carcinoma
- Medullary Carcinoma
- Mucinous Carcinoma
- Papillary Carcinoma
- Cribriform Carcinoma
3. Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC)
Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC) also known as Infiltrating Lobular Carcinoma begins in the milk-producing glands, called lobules. Approximately 10% of all the types of invasive breast cancers are ILC.
4. Lobular Carcinoma In Situ (LCIS)
Another name for LCIS is Lobular Neoplasia, which starts in the milk-producing lobules. Actually LCIS is not breast cancer but rather a collection of abnormal cells. However this type is included in breast cancer category because people affected with LCIS are much more prone to develop breast cancer.
5. Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC)
This breast cancer type is very aggressive and rare in which symptoms are shown with the reddening and swelling of the breast instead of a lump. Inflammatory Breast Cancer has a tendency to grow and increase rapidly and get worse within few days. This cancer can affect men also.
6. Paget Disease of the Breast (or the nipple)
This is another uncommon form of cancer which affects the darker circle of breast skin (areola) and nipple which turn out to be scaly, red and itchy. There may be yellow or bloody discharge from nipples.
7. Metaplastic Breast Cancer
This rare, invasive breast cancer begins in a milk duct and forms large tumors. It may contain a mix of cells that look different than typical breast cancers and can be more difficult to diagnose.
8. Angiosarcoma of the Breast
This cancer grows very fast and is a rare type. It is usually a complication of a prior radiation treatment of the breast.
9. Male Breast Cancer
Also referred as ‘male breast neoplasm’ is a rare cancer in males which is often inherited due to a BRCA mutation but alcohol, ionizing radiation and certain hormones can also be the cause for this type of cancer.
10. Molecular Subtypes of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer types can be segregated by it’s genetic structure. Finding out the basic genetic component is quite useful for planning apt treatment. There are five main subtypes of breast cancer that are based on the genes mutation:
- Luminal-A Breast Cancer
- Luminal-B Breast Cancer
- Triple-negative/Basal-like Breast Cancer
- HER2-enriched Breast Cancer
- Normal-like Breast Cancer
11. Phyllodes Tumours of the Breast
Phyllodes tumors are mostly non-cancerous but can be malignant also and some are border-line. These tumours grow rapidly but rarely spread outside the breast.
12. Metastatic Breast Cancer
Metastatic breast cancer is a breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast to other organs in the body such as bones, lungs, liver or brain.
It can be difficult to diagnose and treat advanced cancer whether it is localised or metastatic. Therefore awareness for breast cancer should be spread around so that breast cancer may be treated at an early stage as it is highly curable cancer.