About breast cancer
Breast cancer is cancer that starts in the breast — usually beginning as a group of cells that grow out of control and form a tumor. Without treatment, the cancer can spread to the rest of the breast, beyond the breast to the lymph nodes and to other areas of the body. Breast cancer almost always affects women, but in rare cases men may develop breast cancer, too.
Scripps MD Anderson Cancer Center provides a full range of services to diagnose, treat and prevent breast cancer.
Types of breast cancer
Breast cancers can be categorized into several types depending on where in the breast the disease begins, how the cancer spreads and other factors. Some breast cancers are a combination of cancer types.
Breast cancer can be categorized as either invasive or noninvasive:
- Invasive breast cancer breaks through normal breast tissue barriers and travels to other parts of the body through the lymph nodes or blood.
- Noninvasive (in situ) breast cancer remains in the area of the breast where it started and does not spread.
The three most common types of breast cancer include:
Invasive ductal carcinoma
The most common type of breast cancer, invasive ductal carcinoma begins in the milk duct, breaks through the wall of the duct and spreads into the breast tissue. This is also known as infiltrating ductal carcinoma.
Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
Ductal cancers begin in the ducts that carry milk to the nipple. Ductal carcinoma in situ refers to an early stage of breast cancer that has not spread beyond the milk duct to healthy tissue. While DCIS is not life-threatening, it can raise a woman’s risk of developing invasive cancer.
Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)
Lobular carcinoma in situ is a type of breast change in the glands that make breast milk. LCIS is not considered cancer, but it may increase the risk of later developing invasive breast cancer.
Less common or rare types of breast cancer include:
Inflammatory breast cancer
Called inflammatory because of its symptoms, this rare form of cancer starts in breast tissues and leads to blocked lymph vessels. This causes the breasts to become warm, itchy, red and tender. It tends to grow quickly and is often not diagnosed until it has reached an advanced stage.
Scripps MD Anderson’s Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) Clinic physicians specialize in this aggressive type of breast cancer. One of just a handful in the United States, our IBC clinic is dedicated to treating inflammatory breast cancer in San Diego using many of the most advanced therapies and technologies available.
Paget disease of the breast
Paget’s is a type of breast cancer that affects the nipple area. Symptoms include skin changes, pain or burning, an inverted nipple, or a discharge. It is also known as Paget disease of the nipple and mammary Paget disease.
These cancer cells are arranged in finger-like projections (papules) rather than a lump. The cells resemble ferns when viewed under a microscope.