Types and stages of breast cancer

Types and stages of breast cancer

Types of Breast Cancer

There are multiple types of breast cancer. It is essential to establish the correct type of breast cancer in order to select an appropriate treatment for the disease. The first thing to be considered is the peculiarity of the breast tumor:

  • Invasive breast cancer: the cells invaded the other parts of the body through the bloodstream and lymph nodes.
  • Noninvasive (in situ) breast cancer: the cells do not spread to other parts of the body.

The categorization of breast cancer depends on the form of the cells. The majority of breast cancers are tumors known as carcinomas, which spread in epithelial cells that line organs and tissues all over the body. Less common breast cancers are known as sarcomas, phyllodes, Paget disease, and angiosarcomas, which start to spread in the cells of muscle, fat, or connective tissue.

In situ breast cancers

  • Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS): a noninvasive or pre-invasive breast cancer. It is subdivided into subtypes, according to the tumor appearance, which includes: micropapillary, papillary, solid, cribriform and comedo.

Such type of cancer is at higher risk of return after treatment or developing new breast cancer in the other breast. The therapy selected may affect the chances of recurrence, which require additional treatment.

  • Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), or lobular neoplasia: cancer alike cells spread throughout the wall of the lobules to the breast tissue or other parts of the body, which increases the risk of developing breast cancer in the future.

It is better to avoid any treatment as LCIS is not cancer, but it is highly recommended to keep an eye on the disease to detect cancer in its most treatable stages.

Invasive breast cancers

  • Invasive ductal carcinoma(IDC): starts at the milk ducts and spreads to the fatty tissue outside the duct and it is likely to advance to other parts of the body through the bloodstream and the lymph system.

Surgery is the most recommended treatment, as it is able to eliminate cancer from the breast with a lumpectomy or mastectomy. Moreover, long-term treatment with tamoxifen will lower the risk of recurrence.

Other less common types of IDC are the following: medullary ductal carcinoma, mucinous ductal carcinoma, papillary ductal carcinoma, tubular ductal carcinoma.

  • Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC): starts in the milk-producing glands and it is likely to spread to other parts of the body. ILC is more difficult to detect on both physical exam and imaging.

Surgery and radiation therapy are the most recommended treatment options in order to treat the tumor zone. Furthermore, chemotherapy and hormonal or targeted therapies are effective in destroying cancer cells all over the body.

Stages of Breast Cancer

There are 5 main stages of breast cancer: 0, I, II, III, IV. Generally, the higher the number the more advanced stage of breast cancer it is.

Stage 0. Describes a non-invasive breast cancer that started in the breast ducts or milk glands. It was diagnosed early and did not spread to other parts of the body.

Stage I. Describes an invasive breast cancer that is starting to attack healthy tissues. Stage I is subdivided into:

  • AI, where the tumor is up to 2 cm and did not spread further;
  • BI, where the tumor is not larger than 2 cm and there are groups of cells up to 2 mm in the lymph nodes.

Stage II. Describes a grown and spread breast cancer. Stage II is subdivided into:

  • IIA, where there may not be cancer in the lymph nodes and the tumor is still small;
  • IIB, where the tumor is bigger and it may be or not in any lymph nodes.

Stage III. Describes an invasive breast cancer that did not spread to bones or organs. Stage III is subdivided into:

  • IIIA, where cancer had spread up to nine if the lymph nodes or had spread to the lymph nodes deep in the breast.
  • IIIB, where the tumor has grown into the chest or skin
  • IIIC, where cancer can be found in 10 or more lymph nodes and spread around your collar bone

Stage IV. Describes an invasive breast cancer that spread beyond the breast and around the lymph nodes to other parts of the body, such as brain, lungs, skin, liver etc.

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