The word cancer is probably one of the most frightening in the English language. It conjures up images of long treatment plans and side effects that no one wants to see. When it comes to breast cancer, the news is generally good. The best weapon against breast cancer is early detection, and women can maximize their chances of detecting it early be performing monthly breast self exams.
There are a wide variety of websites and publications that demonstrate the best way to do these exams, but the most important thing is to do them consistently. This is the best way to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages and maximize your chances of a successful treatment. There are a variety of different types of breast cancer, and there are sometimes different treatment plans that work for each type.
Breast cancers are best broken down into two different types. They can be categorized as either in situ or invasive breast cancer. In situ breast cancer is considered to be non-invasive, meaning that it is localized and it does not spread. Invasive breast cancer spreads from the original site into the rest of the breast tissue and eventually the rest of the body.
Besides being categorized as invasive or non-invasive, breast cancers are also defined by their location of origin. In some cases it may be difficult to tell where the cancer originated, and breast cancer cells can be a mixture of both invasive and non-invasive cells. In addition, there are some rare types of breast cancer that do not fit into any of the established categories.
One common type of breast cancer is known as ductal carcinoma in situ. The words in situ define it as a non-invasive type of breast cancer. The term ductal means that it starts in the ducts of the breast, but does not spread to other tissue. By far the most common type of breast cancer is invasive ductal carcinoma. Invasive ductal carcinoma accounts for about 80% of cases of breast cancer. This type of cancer starts in the ducts, then spreads to other breast tissue. Given enough time it will also spread to other areas of the body, especially via the lymph nodes.
Another common type of breast cancer is lobular carcinoma in situ. This starts in a milk-making glad but does not spread into the actual breast tissue. Because it is non-invasive this is not truly a breast cancer. However, it does raise a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer later on. Women who are diagnosed with lobular carcinoma in situ should be especially certain to perform monthly self exams and have checkups at least yearly to be alert for the development of breast cancer.
Beyond the common types of cancer are a wide variety of “special” types of cancer. These are typically much more rare. The most common of the special types of cancer is invasive lobular carcinoma. This type accounts for 10-15% of breast cancers. The cells of this type of cancer have a characteristic growth pattern that can be identified by testing and examination. There are a variety of other very rare types of breast cancer, but most are uncommon enough that it is not helpful to list them all here.