Breast cancer, also know as carcinoma of the breast, starts when a single cell in the tissue of that breast starts to divide and grow in an abnormal way. There are different types of breast cancer and it is important that an accurate diagnosis is made so that the most appropriate treatment can be planned.
This is an early form of breast cancer where the malignant cells are only found within the milk ducts and have not developed the ability to spread into either the breast tissue or other parts of the body. As it does not spread it is sometimes described as pre-cancerous, intraductal or non invasive carcinoma. It does not usually present any visible or palpable symptoms so is most commonly diagnosed during routine mammography.
Most breast cancers fall within this category. The cancer cells are no longer contained within the ducts but have spread to the surrounding breast tissue. They also have the ability to spread to other parts of the body. The commonest sign of an Invasive Ductal Carcinoma is an abnormal lump, or sometimes an area of nodularity without a definite lump. There may also be nipple changes or a nipple discharge - however these symptoms are not usually due to cancer if there is no lump. Sometimes a swelling occurs under the arm.
This is a pre invasive carcinoma, where there are abnormal changes to the cells lining the lobules within the breast. The presence of LCIS may indicate that there is a small increased risk of developing breast cancer but often no treatment is required other than careful monitoring of the condition.
This cancer occurs when malignant cells in the lobules at the end of the breast ducts have begun to spread out into the breast tissue. It is usually no more serious than other types of cancer but it does behave differently in that, when it occurs, the entire breast tends to be genetically, or genomically unstable. It can also occur in both breasts at the same time and has a slightly higher risk, at a later date, of occurring in the opposite breast. These carcinomas tend to be less receptive to hormone treatment. Lobular cancers may not show up on a mammogram as they have the same density as normal breast tissue. Fortunately they are often palpable so it is important that everyone has a clinical examination.
Although ductal and lobular cancers make up 95% of breast cancers, there are other types. The full diagnosis will be made by the pathologist and treatment will be planned accordingly. We will always ensure that we pass on to you all the relevant information about your cancer.
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