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Types of Breast Cancer

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Breast cancer comes in different forms, like other types of cancer. 

Identifying the specific type of breast cancer helps your doctor design a treatment plan with the best chances of a good outcome.

Your breast is made up of three main types of tissue:

  • Glands
  • Ducts
  • Connective tissue

Breast cancer can begin in any of these tissue types. The most common types of breast cancer begin in one of these parts of the breast.

Your first step toward a healthy lifestyle is making an appointment with your family doctor. Together, you and your doctor can discuss the best options for breast care. Would you like to find a primary care doctor?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the most common kinds of breast cancer are:

  • ​Ductal carcinoma – This is the most common type of breast cancer. It begins in the cells that line the milk ducts in the breast, also called the lining of the breast ducts. 
    • ​​Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) – This type of breast cancer occurs when the abnormal cancer cells are only in the lining of the milk ducts, and have not spread to other tissues in the breast.
    • Invasive ductal carcinoma – The abnormal cancer cells break through the ducts and spread into other parts of the breast tissue. Invasive cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body. 
  •  Lobular carcinoma – In this kind of breast cancer, the cancer cells begin in the lobes, or lobules, of the breast. Lobules are the glands that make milk.
    • ​Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) - The cancer cells are found only in the breast lobules. Lobular carcinoma in situ, or LCIS, does not spread to other tissues very often.
    • Invasive lobular carcinoma – Cancer cells spread from the lobules to the breast tissues that are close by. These invasive cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body. 

Less common forms of breast cancer include:

  • Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) – This is a rare and dangerous form of breast cancer that is particularly aggressive. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimates that IBC accounts for 1-5% of all breast cancers. 
  • Paget's disease – Another rare form of cancer that accounts for about 5% of the breast cancer cases, according to the NCI. In Paget's disease, the cancer first appears the ducts of the nipple. 
  • Male Breast Cancer – This form of cancer accounts for less than 1 percent of all breast cancer cases. Men have the same breast tissue types as women, however while hormones stimulate breast development in women and girls, it is usually absent in men.

Doctors may identify sub-categories of these forms of breast cancer. Identification of the particular form of breast cancer helps your doctor focus treatment and can lead to a better outcome.

Recurrent and metastatic breast cancer

If you have had breast cancer in the past, there is always the chance it will return. According to health professionals, returning breast cancer can be found:

  • Locally, that is in the breast where is started 
  • In the lymph nodes near the breast
  • Metastatic, which means breast cancer has spread to other parts of the body

There are treatments for breast cancer that has spread (metastasis) and your doctor can recommend the best course of action.

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