The Types Of Breast Cancer

More than 265,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed. Despite sharing one name, there are several different types of breast cancers that develop in different parts of the breast and affect specific cells. Despite the numbers of new diagnoses and the myriad of different types, new treatments are becoming ever more effective, resulting in higher survival rates. However, it’s important to understand which type of breast cancer is affecting you or a loved one so that you can seek out the best form of treatment.


The Two Traditional Classifications of breast cancer

Typically, breast cancers have been classified as ductal or lobular. Ductal carcinomas are in the cells of the milk ducts. Lobular carcinomas are found in the milk-producing glands of the breasts, also called the lobules. Both of these cancers can be non-invasive, or invasive. Non-invasive means that the cancer cells have not spread to the surrounding tissues. Typically, non-invasive cancers are found early in the disease’s life cycle. In some cases, non-invasive lobular carcinoma is not classified as cancer if it is found early enough, and is instead considered a risk factor. Invasive cancers mean that the cancerous cells have moved beyond the lobule or duct.


Molecular Receptors

A key factor in assessing invasive breast cancers is the molecular receptor status of the cancer cell. Receptors bond or interact with proteins or hormones in a patient’s body, and are molecules that cancer cells produce. Some receptors have been specifically recognized as causing more rapid growth and spreading of breast cancer cells. Researchers have found three main subtypes of these cells that influence the kind of breast cancer that develops in the patient.


HER2-Positive Breast Cancer

HER2 is a protein that accelerates cell growth and division. This particular protein is found on the surface of breast cells, and when the levels of these proteins are higher than normal, cancer can develop. In the past, the diagnosis of HER2-positive meant that the patient was at increased risk of cancer recurring after treatment. However, recent advances in treatment procedures and targeted therapies have made this form of breast cancer easier to cure in the early stages. These treatments have also improved the survival period for patients who have an invasive cancer that spreads beyond the breast.


Hormone Receptor-Positive Breast Cancer

Frequently referred to as Luminal A breast cancer, Hormone receptor-positive cancer sees receptors binding with the estrogen and progesterone hormones. When bound to a receptor, these hormones help to spread cancer. This type of breast cancer is considered one of the most treatable forms because of the variety of endocrine therapies that are being utilized by medical specialists.


Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

If a breast cancer has been found to lack any of the common receptors, it is referred to as triple-negative. This is the most difficult of the three major forms of breast cancer to treat. Triple-negative breast cancer is typically more aggressive than other forms of breast cancer. This is because there is no clear receptor to target and then treat with therapies or drugs. Chemotherapy has been found to be the most effective form of treatment.


Other Types Of Breast Cancers

Some forms of breast cancer are more common than others. All of these cancers can be treated based on whether they are ductal or lobular and whether they are invasive or non-invasive. Other kinds of breast cancer include inflammatory breast cancer, which blocks the lymph vessels in the skin and soft tissue. Metaplastic breast cancer is remarkable for the lump that grows quickly in the breast and is usually a triple-negative receptor type. Advanced breast cancer is any form of breast cancer that has progressed outside of the breast, and into surrounding areas of the body like the lungs, liver, bones, and brain. In many cases, advanced breast cancer is not considered curable.


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