Breast Cancer – Basics

Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 25 March 2021

Breast Cancer

Men may develop breast cancer as well, although they account for fewer than 1% of all cases. Breast cancer is the second most prevalent cancer diagnosed in women, after skin cancer, and the second leading cause of cancer mortality, after lung cancer.

Breast cancer affects one out of every eight women at any point in their lives. Breast cancer affects around two-thirds of women aged 55 and over. The majority of the others were between the ages of 35 and 54.

Breast cancer is, thankfully, very treatable if detected early. Localized cancer (that is, cancer that hasn't grown into the breast) is normally treatable until it progresses.

Management becomes more difficult after cancer has advanced. It will also keep the illness under control for years.

The below are some of the more common types of breast cancer:

In situ cancers. These forms haven't progressed beyond the duct or lobule from which they emerged.

  • Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). This is the first form of ductal carcinoma (stage 0). The disease is already present in the milk ducts in this case. However, if this form is not treated, it may become invasive. It's normally treatable.
  • Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS). This can only be seen in the lobules that contain breast milk. It isn't real cancer, although it does increase the chances of developing breast cancer later. Get routine mammograms and breast tests if you have them.

Invasive cancers. These have extended or infiltrated the breast tissue around them.

  • Invasive or infiltrating ductal carcinoma  (IDC). The milk ducts are where cancer begins. It penetrates the duct wall and infiltrates the fatty tissue of the breast. It is the most prevalent form of invasive cancer, responsible for 80% of all cases.
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC). This cancer occurs in the lobules and progresses to the underlying tissues and other areas of the body. Around 10% of invasive breast cancers are caused by it. The below are subtypes of invasive breast cancer:
    • Adenoid cystic (or adenocystic) carcinoma. These cells are identical to those present in the salivary glands.
    • Low-grade adenosquamous carcinoma (a type of metaplastic carcinoma). This unusual tumour grows slowly and is often misdiagnosed as another form.
    • Medullary carcinoma. The tumours in this unusual form are a soft, spongy mass that resembles the medulla, a section of the brain.
    • Mucinous carcinoma. Tumors of this uncommon kind float in a tub of mucin, a sticky, slimy substance that makes up mucus.
    • Papillary carcinoma. These tumours are distinguished by their finger-like projections. This uncommon condition also concerns people who have been through menopause.
    • Tubular carcinoma. The tumours are tube-shaped and slow-growing.

Less common types include:

  • Inflammatory breast cancer. Inflammatory cells in the skin's lymph channels cause this uncommon form of cancer.
  • Paget's disease of the nipple. The areola, or thin skin surrounding your nipple, is affected by this kind.
  • Phyllodes tumors of the breast. These uncommon tumours form a leaf-like pattern as they develop. They replicate rapidly but seldom extend beyond the breast.
  • Metastatic breast cancer. Cancer that has progressed to another area of the body, such as the brain, muscles, or lungs, is known as metastatic cancer.


Referenced on 25.3.2021

  1. American Cancer Society: “Learn about Cancer: Breast Cancer."
  2. National Cancer Institute: “Breast Cancer."
  3. CDC: “Breast Cancer."
  4. “Breast Cancer Stages,” “IDC Type: Cribriform Carcinoma of the Breast,” “IDC Type: Medullary Carcinoma of the Breast,” “IDC Type: Mucinous Carcinoma of the Breast,” “IDC Type: Papillary Carcinoma of the Breast,” “IDC Type: Tubular Carcinoma of the Breast,” “Male Breast Cancer,” “Metastatic Breast Cancer,” “Molecular Subtypes of Breast Cancer,” “Phyllodes Tumors of the Breast,” “U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics,” “What Is Mastectomy?”
  5. Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Adenoid Cystic Breast Cancer,” “Breast Cancer in Men.”
  6. Cleveland Clinic: “Breast Cancer.”
  7. Breast Cancer Prevention Partners: “Breast Cancer Subtypes.”
  8. Association of Directors of Anatomic and Surgical Pathology: “Breast Cancer,” “Breast Cancer In-Situ.”
  9. International Journal of Surgery: “Low-grade adenosquamous carcinoma of the breast: A diagnostic and clinical challenge."
  10. Mayo Clinic: “Breast cancer.”

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