Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death in American women today. Noted for the first time by the ancient Egyptians more than 3,500 years ago, it was originally considered a rare disease as it was seen as an embarrassment to be diagnosed with breast cancer. Today it’s the most commonly diagnosed cancer and is the second leading cause of death in American women.
Due to the massive impact of breast cancer in the United States, awareness of the disease is critical. With October being National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we at Brevard Health Alliance find it’s the right time to increase awareness of the disease.
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer with one in eight American women being diagnosed with the disease. It’s estimated that over 246,000 American women will be diagnosed with the disease annually. On average, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every two minutes.
While the disease is quite rare in men, about 2,600 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Today, there are over 2.8 million survivors of breast cancer in the United States alone.
Types of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer begins in the lobules, the milk-producing glands, or the ducts, the passages that drain the milk from the lobules to the nipple. Breast cancer can either be invasive or non-invasive. Invasive breast cancer grows into the normal, healthy tissue and can grow beyond the breast. Most types of breast cancer are invasive. Non-invasive breast cancer stays within the milk ducts or lobules of the breast. They don’t grow into the normal, healthy tissues or beyond the breast.
In some cases, the cancer might be both invasive and non-invasive. In this circumstance, part of the cancer remains in the milk ducts or milk lobules while other parts of the cancer have spread to normal tissue. Even though it’s both invasive and non-invasive, it will be treated as invasive.
There are two main types of breast cancer and other, less common types of the disease. The two main types are ductal carcinoma and lobular carcinoma. A patient can have a single type, or a combination of types of breast cancer.
The most common type of breast cancer is ductal carcinoma. With this type of cancer, the tumor forms in the cells of the milk ducts. It has the potential to either be invasive with a potential to spread, or non-invasive. Non-invasive ductal carcinoma is also called ductal carcinoma in situ, or (DCIS). About one in five breast cancers are DCIS.
Lobular carcinoma is the second most common type of breast cancer. Like ductal carcinoma, lobular carcinoma can be both invasive with the ability to spread, and non-invasive. Non-invasive lobular carcinoma is also called lobular carcinoma in situ, or LCIS. About one in 10 breast cancers are invasive lobular carcinoma cancer.
Less Common Types of Cancer
Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC)
Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare, but aggressive type of breast cancer that affects the dermal lymphatic system. This type of cancer grows in flat sheets rather than in lumps so it can’t be felt during a breast exam.
Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
Triple-negative breast cancer usually appears as an invasive ductal carcinoma featuring cells that lack estrogen and progesterone receptors. This type of cancer tends to spread more quickly than others and doesn’t respond to hormone therapy or drugs that target HER2, a gene that can play a role in the development of breast cancer.
Recurrent Breast Cancer
Recurrent breast cancer is a type of cancer that returns after going undetected for an extended period of time. While it can show itself in breast tissue, it can also appear at other sites like the lungs, liver, bones, and the brain. Even though it may be in other areas of the body, it is still referred to as breast cancer.
Breast cancer affects the lives of millions of people in the United States and around the world. Due to the disease’s widespread impact and the fact that there is currently no cure, awareness of breast cancer is crucial. The month of October is dedicated the spreading that awareness by being labeled National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.