Breast cancer affects one in eight women, and the average woman has a 12 percent chance she will develop it in her lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). However, over the years, much research and awareness has been focused on breast cancer, which has helped the medical community learn more about the disease and how to treat it.
If you have been recently diagnosed, it is a scary time and you may want to learn as much as you can about the disease. Be sure you get the basic facts from reputable sources, such as the ACS, and steer clear of using "Dr. Google" to research your symptoms. It is best to get that information straight from your doctor, as only he or she will know what is happening or what is best in your particular case. But, here are some of the basics about breast cancer. This information comes from the ACS.
Types of breast cancer
Most breast cancers are carcinomas, or more specifically adenocarcinomas that start in the milk ducts or the lobules, which are milk-producing glands. Other, less-common types of breast cancer are sarcomas, phyllodes, Paget disease and angiosarcomas.
A biopsy can tell you and your doctor if breast cancer is in situ, or confined to the milk ducts, or if it is invasive, meaning it has spread out of the milk ducts.
Carcinomas, the most common form of breast cancer, get their name from where they form and how quickly they spread. When they are in situ, there are confined to the milk ducts.
Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is pre-invasive and confined to the milk ducts. So is lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), which is not a type of cancer, but rather, it is a breast change in which cells that look like cancer cells are growing in the milk glands, or lobules.
When a cancer has spread into surrounding breast tissue, it is called invasive. So, for instance, someone may be diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma or invasive lobular carcinoma.
Other types of breast cancer
The other, less-common types of breast cancer are:
Inflammatory breast cancer, a form of invasive breast cancer that reportedly accounts for 1 percent to 5 percent of all breast cancers;
Paget disease of the nipple, which starts in the milk ducts and then spreads to the nipple and aerola;
Phyllodes tumor, a tumor that forms in the connective tissue of the breast. Most of these tumors are said to be benign; and
Angiosarcoma, which starts in the cells that line the blood or lymph vessels.
Source: American Cancer Society