Breast Cancer Types

What type do you have?

 Why write about different types of breast cancer?  I guess because I was interested in knowing how many types there are!  I have met so many women with breast cancer and each one has a unique yet similar story.  I figure based on breast cancer type, breast cancer sub-type, and the age and health of each women necessitates varied approaches to treating and attempting to eradicate the disease.  Plus I love learning new things.  Will I remember all of this?   Probably not!  Will it empower me to ask more questions at my next oncologist appointment?  Absolutely.     So see the list below which I gathered from various websites that I reference.   Now try to focus! (I have a terrible time focusing)

Types of Breast Cancer

  1. Ductal Carcinoma-a common type of breast cancer that starts in cells that line the milk ducts, which carry breast milk to the nipple. There are two types: Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), also called intraductal carcinoma.  (from
  2. MedullaryMedullary breast cancer is a very rare type of invasive ductal breast cancer which accounts less than 5% of all breast cancers. Medullary breast cancer is somewhat more common in people who are carriers of a genetic mutation known as BRCA-1.  (from
  3. Mucinous-Mucinous carcinoma of the breast — sometimes called colloid carcinoma — is a rare form of invasive ductal carcinoma (cancer that begins in the milk duct and spreads beyond it into nearby healthy tissue). In this type of cancer, the tumor is made up of abnormal cells that “float” in pools of mucin, a key ingredient in the slimy, slippery substance known as mucus.  (from
  4. Papillary-Papillary breast cancer is a very rare type of invasive ductal breast cancer that accounts for fewer than 1% of all breast cancers.  The name comes from finger-like projections, or papules, which are seen when the cells are looked at under the microscope.  Compared to more common types of breast cancers, papillary breast cancers are less likely to involve the lymph nodes, are more responsive to treatment, and may have a better prognosis than more common types of invasive ductal cancer. (from
  5. Tubular-Tubular breast cancer is a type of invasive ductal breast cancer that accounts for less than 2% of all breast cancers.  Like other types of invasive ductal cancer, tubular breast cancer begins in the milk duct of the breast before spreading to the tissues around the duct. Tubular breast cancer cells tend to behave less aggressively than more typical kinds of invasive ductal cancers. The tumors are usually small and low grade, meaning that they are not dividing very quickly, and look more like normal cells. (from
  6. Inflammatory Breast Cancer-Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is rare and accounts for only 1-5% of all breast cancers. Although it is often a type of invasive ductal carcinoma, it differs from other types of breast cancer in its symptoms, outlook, and treatment. IBC has symptoms of inflammation like swelling and redness, but infection or injury do not cause IBC or the symptoms. IBC symptoms are caused by cancer cells blocking lymph vessels in the skin causing the breast to look “inflamed.”   (from
  7. Invasive Lobular Carcinoma Invasive lobular carcinoma is a type of breast cancer that begins in the milk-producing glands (lobules) of the breast. Invasive cancer means the cancer cells have broken out of the lobule where they began and have the potential to spread to the lymph nodes and other areas of the body.  (from
  8. Metaplastic-is a rare form of breast cancer, accounting for fewer than 1% of all breast cancers.  It differs from the more common kinds of breast cancer in both its makeup and in the way it behaves. Like invasive ductal cancer, metaplastic breast cancer begins in the milk duct of the breast before spreading to the tissue around the duct.  What makes a metaplastic tumor different is the kinds of cells that make up the tumor.  It is thought that the ductal cells have undergone a change in form (metaplasia) to become completely different cells, though it is not known exactly how or why this occurs. Metaplastic breast cancers can also behave more aggressively than other kinds of breast cancers. (from
  9. Paget’s Disease-is a rare form of breast cancer. Paget’s disease of the breast starts on the nipple and extends to the dark circle of skin (areola) around the nipple. Paget’s disease of the breast isn’t related to Paget’s disease of the bone, a metabolic bone disease. Paget’s disease of the breast affects your nipple and usually the skin (areola) surrounding it. It’s easy to mistake the signs and symptoms of Paget’s disease of the breast for skin irritation (dermatitis) or another noncancerous (benign) skin condition. (from

After reading the above, did your eyes glaze over like mine did? It all seemed the same but different. I ended up bolding wherever I read “invasive ductal carcinoma” There are like 5 or 6 different types of invasive ductal carcinoma. Who knew? My specific pathology report didn’t specify a type of invasive ductal carcinoma so I am guessing mine was not unique. Next appointment, I will be asking my oncologist because I am curious if the treatments would change dependent on the type.

Subtypes of Breast Cancer

Apparently there are 3 different subtypes determined by analyzing your tumor and is often identified in your pathology report. My cancer was hormone receptor positive or #1.  It was hormone receptor 95% positive for both estrogen and progesterone.  Control the hormones, control the cancer.  Triple negative means it is not hormone related or tied to the HER2 protein and likely harder to control.  Cancer is cancer and is very unpredictable.   I can certainly understand why breast cancer or any cancer is not easy to cure.  There are many variables to consider and it is difficult to nail it down.

  1. Hormone receptor positive
  2. HER2 positive
  3. Triple Negative

I think the long and short of it, is to try and learn as much as you can so you can ask questions.  Knowledge is power.  Plus sometimes asking a question may trigger a Doctor to consider other options and possibilities.    

Knowledge is power, Knowledge shared is power multiplied -Robert Boyce

When you know better you do better-Maya Angelou

Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today-Malcolm X

In a time of turbulence and change, it is more true than ever knowledge is power-John F. Kennedy


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