Breast Cancer Awareness Month: 12 different types of breast cancer - Part 2

Invasive breast cancers begin in the milk ducts or the milk glands and spread to the surrounding breast tissue.

Myupchar October 22, 2019 12:29:41 IST
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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: 12 different types of breast cancer - Part 2
  • Invasive breast cancers begin in the milk ducts or the milk glands and spread to the surrounding breast tissue

  • Inflammatory breast cancer is a highly aggressive type of breast cancer that progresses really quickly

  • Tests like mammograms, breast ultrasound or MRI can help to detect multiple types of breast cancer in the early stages when the survival rate is close to 100%

October is breast cancer awareness month. In the spirit of raising awareness, we bring to you a series on the 12 different types of breast cancer. In the first part of this series, we spoke about breast cancers that typically affect younger women. In part 2, we look at invasive cancers.

Invasive breast cancers begin in the milk ducts (invasive ductal carcinoma) or the milk glands (invasive lobular carcinoma) and spread to the surrounding breast tissue. Depending on how they look and behave, medical practitioners have further subdivided them. Read on to know more:

Breast Cancer Awareness Month 12 different types of breast cancer  Part 2

Representational image. Image source: Getty Images.

Tubular breast cancer

A rare but invasive cancer, it begins inside the milk ducts and spreads to the surrounding tissues. This type of carcinoma accounts for less than 2% of breast cancer cases worldwide. The name “tubular” comes from the fact that the tumour cells in this type of cancer appear tube-like under the microscope. However, it is not really aggressive and generally has a good prognosis.

Papillary breast cancer

An invasive ductal carcinoma, it occurs in less than 1% of the cases. As the name suggests, the cancer cells look like papillae — finger-like projections — under the microscope. The tumour is usually benign, though it can be malignant in some cases. Even the malignant type of papillary breast cancer does not usually spread to the lymph nodes (most cancers spread to the other organs via the lymph nodes). This type of cancer is more common in post-menopausal women.

Mucinous breast cancer

This type of breast cancer occurs in less than 2% of the cases. It begins in the milk ducts and spreads to the surrounding tissues. It consists of floating cells in mucus - a slippery substance that lubricates the body tissues. This type of cancer mostly affects women after menopause and is usually seen in women in their 60s and 70s. It is not very aggressive - cells don’t divide and spread as quickly.

Inflammatory breast cancer

Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a highly aggressive type of breast cancer that progresses really quickly - within months or weeks. It accounts for 1-5% of all breast cancers and manifests in the form of swelling and redness in the breasts.

The swelling is due to the blockage of lymph ducts in the breast tissue which stops the flow of lymph and leads to fluid buildup in the breast.

Nipple inversion and dimpling are some other apparent symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer.

Studies show more obese women get IBC than women with a healthy weight.

Medullary breast cancer

Ever heard of BRCA-1 in the context of breast cancer? It’s a gene mutation that is commonly seen in people who get medullary breast cancer — an aggressive form of the disease — that, strangely, has a good prognosis.

The name “medullary” comes from the fact that the tumours look like some brain cells under a microscope - the medulla is part of the brainstem. Medical practitioners say that this type of cancer is “high grade” and spreads quickly. It typically affects women in their 40s and 50s.

Early diagnosis

Most breast cancers are invasive and begin in the milk ducts (though some types also begin in the breast lobules, where the milk is produced). In rare cases, breast cancer may originate in the soft tissues such as fats, muscles or blood vessels - sarcoma.

Tests like mammograms (recommended every two years in women over 40), breast ultrasound or MRI can help to detect multiple types of breast cancer in the early stages when the survival rate is close to 100%.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. For more information, read our article on Breast Cancer: Types and Treatment.

This is the second article in a three-part series on the types of breast cancer. Read our first story in the series here.

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