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There are several different types of breast cancer|. Knowing the type you have helps the doctors plan the most appropriate treatment| for you.
Learn more about these types and related conditions, including how they are diagnosed and treated, below:
This is the earliest form of breast cancer. In DCIS|, cancer cells are in the ducts of the breast, but they haven’t started to spread into the surrounding breast tissue. DCIS shows up on a mammogram and is usually diagnosed when women go for breast screening. We have a separate section about DCIS|.
If cancer cells have spread outside the lining of the ducts or lobules into surrounding breast tissue, it’s called invasive breast cancer. There are different types of invasive breast cancer:
Invasive ductal breast cancer occurs when cancer cells lining the duct have spread into surrounding breast tissue. It’s the most common type of breast cancer – 4 out of 5 breast cancers (80%) are this type.
Invasive lobular breast cancer develops from the cells that line the lobes of the breast and can sometimes be difficult to diagnose on a mammogram. About 1 in 10 breast cancers (10%) are this type.
Inflammatory breast cancer| is an uncommon type of breast cancer. It happens when cancer cells grow along and block the tiny channels (lymph vessels|) in the skin of the breast. The lymph vessels and the breast then become inflamed and swollen, which is how the condition gets its name.
Paget’s disease of the breast| shows up as a red, scaly rash (like eczema) on the skin of the nipple. Women who have Paget’s disease may have underlying DCIS or invasive breast cancer.
Triple negative breast cancer| gets its name because it doesn’t have receptors (proteins on the surface of cells) for the hormones oestrogen and progesterone, or for a protein called HER2. Triple negative breast cancer occurs in up to 1 in 5 women (15–20%) with breast cancer and is more common in younger women.
HER2 positive breast cancer| is diagnosed in women whose breast cancer cells have a large number of a protein called HER2 on their surface. This protein can affect how some cancer cells grow. About 1 in 7 women (15%) with early breast cancer have HER2 positive cancer.
The types of breast cancer are named according to the place the cancer started, and whether it has spread into the breast tissue:
Other rare types of breast cancer include:
For more information about any of these rare types of breast cancer, contact your doctor or nurse, or our cancer support specialists.
LCIS| isn’t breast cancer. In LCIS, there are changes to the cells lining the lobes, which slightly increases the risk of developing breast cancer later in life. Most women with LCIS never develop breast cancer. It’s monitored with regular breast screening and mammograms.
Content last reviewed: 1 August 2011
Next planned review: 2013
For answers, support or just a chat, call the Macmillan Support Line free (Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm)
If you have any questions about cancer, need support or just want someone to talk to, ask Macmillan.
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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