What is Breast Cancer?


Cancer that forms in tissues of the breast, usually the ducts (tubes that carry the milk from the lobules to the nipple). It occurs in both men and women, although male breast cancer is rare.
Source: NCI

There are many different types of breast cancer. The type depends on which cells in the breast become cancerous. Breast cancer can begin in different parts of the breast, such as the ducts and the lobules mentioned in the NCI definition above.


Types of Breast Cancer

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the most common form of breast cancer is ductal carcinoma or cancer that begins in the lining of the breast ducts. If these abnormal cancer cells remain only in the lining of the duct, it is referred to as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). If they spread to invade the surrounding breast tissue, it is called invasive ductal carcinoma.
Source: NCI

Another common form of breast cancer is lobular carcinoma or cancer that begins in the lobules of the breast. Again, lobular carcinoma can be either in situ or invasive.
Source: NCI

Less common forms of breast cancer include Paget’s disease and inflammatory breast cancer.


Signs and Symptoms

Finding a lump in the breast or armpit is the most common way to detect cancer. However, the CDC reports that most breast lumps are not cancerous. Rather, the two most common causes of breast lumps are fibrocystic breast conditions and cysts.

The following additional symptoms listed by the CDC as possible signs of breast cancer can also be caused by conditions other than cancer:

  • Thickening or swelling of part of the breast
  • Irritation or dimpling of breast skin
  • Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area of the breast
  • Pulling in the nipple or pain in the nipple area
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood
  • Any change in the size or shape of the breast
  • Pain in any area of the breast

If you have any concerns about your breast health, you should consult your doctor right away.The process used to find out whether cancer has spread within the breast or to other parts of the body is called staging. It is important to know the stage in order to plan treatment. Definitions of the 4 stages of breast cancer can be found here: For more information, please visit http://www.cancer.gov/types/breast/patient/breast-treatment-pdq#section/_148.


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