Breast Cancer

Posted September 15, 2022 by Anusha ‐ 6 min read

Breast cancer originates in your breast tissue. It occurs when breast cells mutate or change and grow out of control, creating a mass of tissue or tumor. Like other cancers, breast cancer can invade and grow into the tissue surrounding your breast.

Types of Breast Cancer

Infiltrating (invasive) ductal carcinoma

Starting in your milk ducts of your breast, this cancer breaks through the wall of your duct and spreads to surrounding breast tissue. Making up about 80% of all cases, this is the most common type of breast cancer.

Ductal carcinoma in situ

Also called Stage 0 breast cancer, ductal carcinoma in situ is considered by some to be precancerous because the cells haven’t spread beyond your milk ducts. This condition is very treatable. However, prompt care is necessary to prevent the cancer from becoming invasive and spreading to other tissues.

Infiltrating (invasive) lobular carcinoma

This cancer forms in the lobules of your breast (where breast milk production takes place) and has spread to surrounding breast tissue. It accounts for 10% to 15% of breast cancers.

Lobular carcinoma in situ

It is a precancerous condition in which there are abnormal cells in the lobules of your breast. It isn’t a true cancer, but this marker can indicate the potential for breast cancer later on. So, it’s important for women with lobular carcinoma in situ to have regular clinical breast exams and mammograms.

Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC)

Making up about 15% of all cases, triple negative breast cancer is one of the most challenging breast cancers to treat. It’s called triple negative because it doesn’t have three of the markers associated with other types of breast cancer. This makes prognosis and treatment difficult.

Inflammatory breast cancer

Rare and aggressive, this type of cancer resembles an infection. People with inflammatory breast cancer usually notice redness, swelling, pitting and dimpling of their breast skin. It’s caused by obstructive cancer cells in their skin’s lymph vessels.

Paget’s disease of the breast

This cancer affects the skin of your nipple and areola (the skin around your nipple).

Causes of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer develops when abnormal cells in your breast divide and multiply. But experts don’t know exactly what causes this process to begin in the first place.

Symptoms of Breast Cancer

  • A change in the size, shape or contour of your breast.

  • A mass or lump, which may feel as small as a pea.

  • A lump or thickening in or near your breast or in your underarm that persists through your menstrual cycle.

  • A change in the look or feel of your skin on your breast or nipple (dimpled, puckered, scaly or inflamed).

  • Redness of your skin on your breast or nipple.

  • An area that’s distinctly different from any other area on either breast.

  • A marble-like hardened area under your skin.

  • A blood-stained or clear fluid discharge from your nipple.

Diagnosis of Breast Cancer


These special X-ray images can detect changes or abnormal growths in your breast. A mammogram is commonly used in breast cancer prevention. Ultrasonography

This test uses sound waves to take pictures of the tissues inside of your breast. It’s used to help diagnose breast lumps or abnormalities.

Positron emission tomography (PET) scanning

A PET scan uses special dyes to highlight suspicious areas. During this test, your healthcare provider injects a special dye into your veins and takes images with the scanner.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

This test uses magnets and radio waves to produce clear, detailed images of the structures inside of your breast.

Treatment of Breast Cancer


Also called a partial mastectomy, a lumpectomy removes the tumor and a small margin of healthy tissue around it. Typically, some of the lymph nodes in your breast or under your arm are also removed for evaluation. People who have a lumpectomy often have radiation therapy in the weeks following the procedure.


Removal of your entire breast is another option. In some cases, doctors can perform a nipple-sparing mastectomy to preserve your nipple and areola (the dark skin around your nipple). Many women choose to undergo either immediate or delayed breast reconstruction following their mastectomy.

Sentinel node biopsy

  • Because early detection of breast cancer has resulted in the lymph nodes being negative (for cancer) in most cases, the sentinel node biopsy was developed to prevent the unnecessary removal of large numbers of lymph nodes that aren’t involved by the cancer.

  • To identify the sentinel lymph node, doctors inject a dye that tracks to the first lymph node that cancer would spread to.

Axillary lymph node dissection

If multiple lymph nodes are involved by the cancer, an axillary lymph node dissection may be done to remove them. This means removing many of the lymph nodes under your arm (your axilla).

Modified radical mastectomy

During this procedure, your entire breast is removed in addition to your nipple. Nearby lymph nodes in your underarm area are also removed, but your chest muscles are left intact. Breast reconstruction can often be an option if desired.

Radical mastectomy

This procedure is rarely performed today unless the breast cancer has spread to your chest wall muscles. During a radical mastectomy, your surgeon removes your entire breast, your nipple, underarm lymph nodes and chest wall muscles. People who undergo this procedure may choose to have breast reconstruction as well.

Radiation therapy for breast cancer

Radiation therapy for breast cancer is typically given after a lumpectomy or mastectomy to kill remaining cancer cells. It can also be used to treat individual metastatic tumors that are causing pain or other problems.

Chemotherapy for breast cancer

  • Your healthcare provider may recommend chemotherapy for breast cancer before a lumpectomy in an effort to shrink the tumor.

  • Sometimes, it’s given after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells and reduce the risk of recurrence (coming back).

  • If the cancer has spread beyond your breast to other parts of your body, then your healthcare provider may recommend chemotherapy as a primary treatment.

Hormone therapy for breast cancer

  • Some types of breast cancer use hormones such as estrogen and progesterone to grow.

  • In these cases, hormone therapy can either lower estrogen levels or stop estrogen from attaching to breast cancer cells.

  • Most often, healthcare providers use hormone therapy after surgery to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence.

  • However, they may also use it before surgery to shrink the tumor or to treat cancer that has spread to other parts of your body.

Immunotherapy for breast cancer

  • Immunotherapy uses the power of your own immune system to target and attack breast cancer cells.

  • Treatment is given intravenously (through a vein in your arm or hand).

  • Your healthcare provider might use immunotherapy for breast cancer in combination with chemotherapy.

diseases disorders breast-cancer cancers

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