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What Are the Four Types of Breast Cancer?

What is breast cancer?

The four main classifications of breast cancer are invasive and in-situ ductal carinomas and invasive and in-situ lobular carcinoma. Designations are based on the location and spread of the tumors.The four main classifications of breast cancer are invasive and in-situ ductal carinomas and invasive and in-situ lobular carcinomas. Designations are based on the location and spread of the tumors.

Breast cancer is the disease in which cells in the breast grow out-of-control, displacing normal breast cells.  When breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it is called metastasized breast cancer. Breast cancer and its complications can affect nearly every part of the body. Although breast cancer predominantly occurs in women, it can also affect men.

What are the four types of breast cancer?

Breast cancer may be called lobular carcinoma if it begins in glands that make milk, or ductal carcinoma if it begins in the ducts that carry milk to the nipple. The cancer may grow and invade other areas around the breast, such as skin or chest wall. 

Different types of breast cancer grow and spread at different rates. Both types of breast cancer may be invasive or non-invasive.

  • Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS): DCIS is a noninvasive condition. With DCIS, the cancer cells are confined to the ducts in the breast and have not invaded the surrounding breast tissue.
  • Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS): LCIS is cancer that grows in the milk-producing glands of the breast. Like DCIS, the cancer cells do not invade the surrounding tissue.
  • Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC): It is the most common type of breast cancer. This type of breast cancer begins in the milk ducts and then invades nearby tissue in the breast. Once the breast cancer has spread to the tissue outside milk ducts, it can spread to other nearby organs and tissue.
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma first develops in lobules of the breast (milk glands) and then invades nearby tissues.

Apart from above four types, below are few less-common types of breast cancer: 

  • Paget disease of the nipple: This type of breast cancer begins in the ducts of the nipple, but as it grows, it begins to affect the skin and area of the nipple.
  • Phyllodes tumor: This very rare type of breast cancer grows in the connective tissue of the breast. Most of these tumors are benign, but some are cancerous.
  • Angiosarcoma: This cancer that grows on the blood and lymph vessels in the breast.


A lump in the breast is almost always cancer.
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What are the common warning signs and symptoms of breast cancer?

  • Lump in the breast or armpit discovered during bathing may be the first symptom of breast cancer
  • Changes to the nipple and the surrounding area like nipple retraction and inverted nipple.
  • Bloody discharge from nipple: If an individual notices blood stains on the bra, and if the secretions are unusual, they may need urgent medical attention. 
  • Change in color and/or thickening of skin on the breast, dimpling or thickening of breast skin that resembles an orange rind is a warning sign of breast cancer. If the breast skin changes color, typically to a pink or reddish hue that covers more than half the breast, that may also be a warning sign.
  • A non-healing sore anywhere on the breast, including the nipple: A red, scaly, flaky nipple, and any persistent skin change, including blood or fluid from the nipple with non-healing sore, may be a warning sign of breast cancer.
  • Increased warmth in the breast
  • Pain, itching or tenderness in the breast

What are the treatment options for breast cancer?

Below are some common treatment options to combat breast cancer:

  • Lumpectomy is when the doctor removes the tumor while leaving the breast intact.
  • Mastectomy is when the doctor surgically removes all the breast tissue including the tumor and connecting tissue and the lymph nodes.
  • Chemotherapy is the most common cancer treatment, and it involves the use of anticancer drugs. These drugs interfere with the ability of the cells to reproduce.
  • Radiation uses X-rays to treat cancer directly.
  • Hormone and targeted therapy can be used when either genes or hormones play a part in the growth of cancer cells. The therapy targets a specific protein on the tumor cells.

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