New Health Guide

Types of Breast Cancer

Oct 11, 2013

The ACS (American Cancer Society) has established that in the year 2010, more than 207,000 invasive breast cancer cases were diagnosed. The rates of breast cancer incidences saw a 2% decrease each year between 1998 and 2007. This was likely as a result of the reduction in the use of therapies for hormone replacement as well as improvements in prevention, treatment and detection efforts. There are two types of breast cancer: non-invasive breast cancer and invasive breast cancer. Learn about the symptoms and treatments for specific breast cancer types.

Types of Breast Cancer

The following picture shows the difference between normal, non-invasive and invasive cells:

Normal Cells

Non-Invasive Cells

Invasive Cells




Non-invasive Breast Cancer

This is a breast cancer type that stays within the breast’s lobules or milk ducts. Non-invasive cancers do not grow or transmit to other tissues in the breast or outside the breast. This type of cancer is also referred to as ‘carcinoma in situ’ or pre-cancers.

Types of the most common non-invasive cancers

(DCIS) Ductal carcinoma in situ

This is the most common non-invasive cancer. DSIS starts from the milk ducts lining and is made up of cells with malignant features. These cells do not spread to other body parts. However, DCIS is seen as a precursor to invasive breast cancer type. If not treated early enough, it can lead to full blown breast cancer.

( LCIS) Lobular carcinoma in situ

This is also a common non-invasive type of breast cancer. LSIS cancer develops from the milk lobules and is seen as a risk factor that can lead to breast cancer in the future. However, unlike DSIS, this is not a direct precursor of full blown cancer.

Invasive Breast Cancer

Invasive breast cancer is the type that can grow into healthy, normal tissues, affecting body parts like lymph nodes in the armpits and the liver. A majority of the breast cancers are invasive. Your treatment choice depends on whether your cancer type is invasive or non-invasive. The type of cancer also determines how the cancer responds to treatment.

(IDC) Invasive ducal carcinoma

This is the most common breast cancer type in women today. IDC starts from the milk duct lining. It penetrates the walls of the duct and spreads to the surrounding tissues. This is an invasive characteristic that is linked to cancer cells that spread to the rest of the body.

(ILC) invasive lobular carcinoma

This is the second most common type of breast cancer. In fact, ILC accounts for more than 10% of the invasive cancer types that are diagnosed. This cancer type originates from the breast glands that produce milk (lobules). It spreads through the breast tissues and eventually to other body parts.

Male breast cancer

This is a rare type of breast cancer. Less than 1% of all diagnosed breast cancers occur in men. This normally occurs as a mass or lump in a male breast. It is often treated with mastectomy or lumpectomy.

Inflammatory breast cancer

This is a breast cancer type that is not characterized by lumps or tumors. Instead, the breast skin becomes warm, thickens, and turns red and pitted. It looks a lot like an orange peel.

Recurrent or/and metastatic breast cancer

This is a cancer of the breast that has recurred after it was previously treated. Normally, it returns after spreading to other parts of the body.

Paget’s disease

This is cancer that mainly affects the nipple of the breast. In this type of cancer, the cancer cells accumulate around and inside the nipple.

Phyllodes tumors of the breast

This is rare type of breast tumor that originates from the breast’s connective tissues. They spread in a leaf-like pattern. Some of these tumors are cancerous while others are not.

Endocrine-sensitive breast cancer

This is a type of cancer that is characterized by cancer cells containing progesterone receptor and estrogen receptor in measurable amounts. This makes the cancer treatable with various endocrine methods.

Her2 positive breast cancer

This is type of breast cancer characterized by cancer cells that are overabundant in the Her2 receptor. This type of cancer is curable and is treated with specific anti-Her2 therapies like herceptin and trastuzumab.

Triple negative breast cancer

This is a cancer type that is not hormone based, with no progesterone receptors, estrogen receptors and, and not an excess of the HER2 receptor. Triple negative breast cancer can be hard to treat as there are no agents that target the cancer cells.

Medullary carcinoma

This is an IDC subtype that is rare. It is named so because of its resemblance to the medulla in the brain.

Metaplastic carcinoma

This is a rare invasive cancer type where some of the cancer cells change to other breast cancer cell types resulting in a mixed tumor.

Mucinous carcinoma

This is a rare IDC type where the cancer causes the development of mucin pools. Mucin is a saliva component.

Papillary carcinoma

This is also a rare IDC subtype. It develops in distinct lumps characterized by finger-like extensions that project outwardly.

Tubular carcinoma

This is also a rare IDC subtype characterized by cancer cell collection that look like small tubes that have a diameter of less than 1 cm.