Thursday, February 19, 2009

Breast Cancer 101

Unless you are diagnosed with breast cancer, you may not know that there is more than one type of breast cancer. In fact there are quite a few factors that affect a diagnosis, type of breast cancer and therefore type of treatment.

I am not a doctor ... I am just offering some information and please understand it may not be completely accurate. That is my disclaimer.

My goal here is to show in a very condensed version how complicated breast cancer is. The information can be overwhelming.

I found most of this information from a couple of sources. If you are interested, there is much more detail on these two sites as well as many more on the internet:

1. Willow Breast Cancer Support Canada – Managing Your Cancer Care
2. American Cancer Society

O.K. here we go ....

A breast cancer diagnosis will be based on a pathology report which will be based on some of the following factors:
  • Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCTS) – This is an uncontrolled growth of cells within the milk duct.
  • Lobular Carcinoma In Situ (LCIS) – This is an uncontrolled growth of cell within the lobule.
  • Invasive – This is cancer that began in either the milk ducts or the lobules but that has spread to surrounding breast tissue ... either lymph nodes or other organs.
  • Inflammatory – This is an aggressive form of cancer that occurs in the lymph vessels of the skin and quickly spreads to lymph nodes and other parts of the body.
The pathology report will also include some other information about the tumor:
  • Stages – Generally it goes from 1 - 4 and depends on size of tumor, if it spread to the lymph nodes and blood vessels, to other organs, etc.
  • Grade – The grades are 1 - 3. The number generally depends on how aggressive the cancer is.
  • Hormone receptor status – This indicate whether the cancer is sensitive to the influence of hormones such as estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) status.
  • HERS status – This indicates whether the body’s cells have too much of a protein called HER2.
Other important considerations:
  • Vascular or Lymphatic Invasion – This indicates whether cancer cells are found in the blood vessels or fluid channels of the breast.
  • Lymph Node Status – This indicates whether cancer cells have spread to the lymph nodes.
Types of breast cancers:

There are several types of breast cancer, with some of them being quite rare. In some cases a single breast tumor can have a combination of these types or have a mixture of invasive and in situ cancer.
  • Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS; also known as intraductal carcinoma)
  • Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS; also called lobular neoplasia)
  • Invasive (or infiltrating) ductal carcinoma (IDC)
  • Invasive (or infiltrating) lobular carcinoma (ILC)
Less common types of breast cancer are:
  • Inflammatory breast cancer
  • Triple-negative breast cancer
  • Mixed tumors
  • Medullary carcinoma
  • Metaplastic carcinoma
  • Mucinous carcinoma
  • Paget disease of the nipple
  • Tubular carcinoma
  • Papillary carcinoma
  • Adenoid cystic carcinoma (adenocystic carcinoma)
  • Phyllodes tumor
  • Angiosarcoma
Tomorrow I will go into detail about my particular cancer and treatment thus far.


Renee said...

I have inflammatory and it was never spotted on a mammogram, I had two at the time. You do not have to have a lump to have breast cancer.


Important post.

Love Renee

Anonymous said...

Really good information Daria! It is fantastic to share this information - 1 in 4 will receive a cancer diagnosis. There is power in knowledge and as we know, you need lots of power to get through the appointments, check-ups, treatments, etc. Thank you for sharing this.

Cheryl said...

Evening Daria
I am a believer that knowledge is power. Thank you for a great Post. I feel that it can be very helpful to read this information in a simplified version such as you have presented.
I did enjoy it. Thank you.