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What Are the Different Types of Breast Cancer?

What Are the Different Types of Breast Cancer? | UPMC Ireland

In Ireland there are 3,700 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed each year, according to Breast Cancer Ireland. Men also can develop breast cancer, although it is rare.

There are many different types of breast cancer. Here's what you need to know about the various types and how to recognise symptoms.

What Are the Types of Breast Cancer?

Each different type of breast cancer is distinguished by the origin of the cancer cells and whether it has the potential to spread.

Invasive vs. non-invasive breast cancer

Invasive breast cancer can spread (or metastasize) throughout the breast and to other areas of the body. Non-invasive (also known as carcinoma in situ) breast cancer doesn't spread. Since it can precede more invasive types, it is sometimes referred to as a precancerous condition.

The most common invasive types are:

  • Invasive ductal carcinoma: This is a breast cancer that affects the inner lining of the milk ducts. It accounts for about 80 percent of all breast cancer diagnoses in women, and 90 percent in men. Symptoms are wide-ranging and can be subtle in the early stages.
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma: This breast cancer that originates from the glands that produce milk. Those diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma tend to notice a fullness and thickening of the breast rather than a breast lump.

The most common in situ types are:

  • Ductal carcinoma in situ: The most common type of non-invasive breast cancer that remains within the milk ducts. This type of cancer may exist before invasive ductal carcinoma.
  • Lobular carcinoma in situ: This is a non-invasive condition that rarely develops into breast cancer. However, lobular carcinoma is considered a high-risk condition since it may increase your chances of developing an invasive type of breast cancer.

Less Common Types of Breast Cancer

  • Paget's disease of the nipple: This usually begins in the nipple ducts and spreads to the nipple and areola, causing redness and irritation.
  • Inflammatory breast cancer: This is an aggressive type of breast cancer in which the breast swells and reddens. It can be mistaken for less serious breast conditions like mastitis or cellulitis.
  • Angiosarcoma of the breast: This originates in cells that line the blood or lymph vessels. It often develops after previous radiation treatment in that area.

What Are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer symptoms vary widely. While the most common symptom of breast cancer is a lump or mass in the breast, some types can cause different, and sometimes subtler, symptoms. We recommend performing regular breast self-examinations and seeing a doctor if you notice any of the following:

  • Lumps in the breast.
  • Thickening of breast tissue.
  • Swelling, warmth, redness, or darkening.
  • Change in the size or shape of your breast.
  • Dimpling or puckering of the skin.
  • An orange peel appearance.
  • Itchy, scaly, or sore breasts.
  • Nipple rash.
  • Nipple retraction.
  • Sudden nipple discharge without pressure or manual manipulation.
  • New, persistent pain in one spot.

Treating Breast Cancer

At UPMC Hillman Cancer Centre, we tailor a personalised treatment plan to meet the patient's needs. Our oncology treatments include:

  • Hormone therapy.
  • Radiation therapy.
  • Chemotherapy.

Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations

Early detection is important. Even if you don't have symptoms or a family history of breast cancer, we recommend monthly breast self- examinations, annual breast examinations by your doctor, and a mammogram every two years, beginning at age 50.

About UPMC Hillman Cancer Centre

Read more about UPMC Hillman Cancer Centre services in Ireland.