Types of Breast Cancer

There are many different types of breast cancer and each patient’s treatment will differ from another’s. Breast Cancer is divided into two types:

  1. Ductal Carcinoma In Situ
  2. Invasive Breast Cancer


DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma in Situ)

DCIS is the earliest form of breast cancer. It is often described as a pre-cancerous or non-invasive cancer. This means the cancer is confined to the cells of the milk ducts or ‘in situ’ and has not developed the ability to spread either within or outside the breast.

Most women with DCIS have no obvious symptoms and are diagnosed from a mammogram.

Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Breast Cancer

This is the most common type of breast cancer. It is also known as infiltrating ductal carcinoma. This form of breast cancer starts developing in the milk ducts of the breast, but can break out of the duct tubes and invade the surrounding tissue of the breast.

Invasive Ductal Carcinoma can spread to the lymph nodes and possibly to other areas of the body over time.

This type of breast cancer accounts for about 8 out of 10 of all invasive breast cancers. It is more common as women grow older, but can affect women of any age.

Invasive Lobular Breast Cancer

Breast glandular tissue is made up of lobules, where milk is made and stored and ducts, which drain the milk. Invasive lobular breast cancer starts in the cells that make up these lobules.

It is not as common and affects about 1 out of 10 of all invasive breast cancers. It can occur at any age, but usually affects women between the age of 45 and 55.

It is generally no more serious than other types of breast cancer. However, it is sometimes found in both breasts at the same time. There is also a slightly greater risk of it occurring in the opposite breast at a later date.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Inflammatory breast cancer can occur when the skin of the breast has a reddened appearance. The reddened appearance is caused by breast cancer cells blocking the lymph channels.

The lymph channels are part of the lymphatic system involved in the body’s defence against infections.

This type of breast cancer is rare, accounting for only 1-2% of all breast cancers.

Paget’s disease of the breast

This is an uncommon form of breast cancer that starts in the breast ducts and spreads to the skin of the nipple and the areola, the dark circle around the nipple.

It occurs in around 1% of all women with breast cancer.

Hereditary Breast Cancer

This form of breast cancer occurs when a faulty gene is passed on from either parent. These genes increase the likelihood of developing cancer, but people can carry genes and not develop breast cancer.


For more detailed information on the various types of breast cancer please speak to your GP or breast care nurse.
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