Types of breast cancer

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)

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.

Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)

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.

Invasive breast cancer

Most breast cancers are invasive. This means the cancer cells have spread outside the lining of the ducts or lobules into surrounding breast tissue.

Invasive ductal breast cancer

Most invasive breast cancers (80%) are this type.

Invasive lobular breast cancer

About 1 in 10 (10%) of invasive breast cancers are lobular. It can sometimes be difficult to diagnose on a mammogram. Doctors do tests on the cancer to help decide which treatments are best for you. They look at whether the cells have receptors (proteins) for hormones or a protein called HER2 (HER2 positive breast cancer). Breast cancer that has no receptors is called triple negative breast cancer.

Uncommon types

There are some uncommon and rare types of invasive breast cancer.

Inflammatory breast cancer

This is when cancer cells grow along and block the tiny channels (lymph vessels) in the skin of the breast. The breast then becomes inflamed and swollen. We have more information about inflammatory breast cancer.

Paget’s disease of the breast

This shows as a red, scaly rash (like eczema) on the skin of the nipple. Women with Paget’s disease may have DCIS or invasive breast cancer. We have more information about different types of breast cancer, including information about tubular breast cancer and malignant phyllodes tumour. If you have a type of breast cancer we haven’t mentioned here, you can speak to one of our cancer support specialists.

Back to Understanding breast cancer

What is cancer?

There are more than 200 different kinds of cancer, each with its own name and treatment.

Cancer and cell types

Cancers are grouped into types. Types of cancer often behave and respond to treatments in different ways.

How it is treated

There are five main types of cancer treatment. You may receive one, or a combination of treatments, depending on your cancer type.

The breasts

Breasts are made of fat, supportive (connective tissue) and glandular tissue that contains lobes (milk glands).

Why do cancers come back?

Sometimes, tiny cancer cells are left behind after cancer treatment. These can divide to form a new tumour.