Types of Breast Cancer

There are more than a dozen types of breast cancer. It is essential to treat each type accordingly to its diagnosed characteristics. Even among sub-types of breast cancer, there is no one-size-fits-all therapy. Two cases that seemto be similar may involve subtle differences that change our recommendations for treatment. The main types of breast cancer are:

  • Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is an early stage cancer confined to the ducts that carry milk from the breast to the nipple. In situ cancer is cancer that does not spread. Also called a precancer or Stage 0 breast cancer, it has an extremely high cure rate. Approximately 98 to 99 percent women are cured of DCIS.
  • Infiltrating ductal carcinoma starts in the ducts of the breast and spreads into surrounding tissues. It is the most common type of breast cancer in women.
  • Infiltrating lobular carcinoma begins in the lobules of the breast that produce milk. It spreads into the surrounding tissue. Treatment and prognosis are very similar to invasive ductal carcinoma.
  • Inflammatory carcinoma invades the lymphatic vessels of the skin causing redness and swelling of the skin. It can be very extensive and is very likely to spread to the local lymph nodes. It is a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer that can be difficult to treat.
  • Medullary, mucinous, and tubular carcinomas are relatively slower-growing and less common types of breast cancer.
  • Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) affects the lobules that produce milk. It is not considered actual breast cancer. Women who have LCIS do have a 7 to 10 times increased risk of developing infiltrating carcinoma in one or both breasts within 20 years. (Women without LCIS have a 20 to 25 percent lifetime risk.)