Types of Breast Cancer and its Staging and Grading
Most of the time woman have no idea about the types of breast cancers and because of that, they are unaware of the treatments related to breast cancer type.
First of let’s see what is breast cancer? The name gives to any cancer that starts in the breast tissue known as breast cancer. And also breast cancer found only in the breast (and possibly armpit lymph nodes) known as early, or primary, breast cancer. Besides, there are many types of early breast cancer.
Noninvasive breast cancer
Early breast cancers that found only in the milk lobes (glands) or ducts (tubes) of the breast and no other breast tissues known as noninvasive breast cancers. They can be thought of as an early form of breast cancer, and are sometimes called ‘pre-cancerous’.
The most common types of noninvasive breast cancer are ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). It is also known as pre-invasive or intra-ductal carcinoma.
This type of breast cancer sometimes later develops the ability to spread to surrounding tissues, becoming invasive. Because of this, women with noninvasive breast cancers usually advised having treatment. Specially DCIS often treated by surgery, and some women may receive additional treatments, such as radiotherapy.
The effectiveness of hormone therapy for DCIS is being assessed in clinical trials.
Noninvasive breast cancer is not the same as a benign breast condition. Benign breast conditions, such as cysts and fibroadenomas, are not cancer and are rarely associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer in the future.
Invasive breast cancer
Early breast cancers spread beyond the milk lobes or ducts to the surrounding breast or armpit tissue known as early invasive breast cancer. This is different from metastatic (advanced) breast cancer, which is invasive breast cancer that has spread to distant parts of the body.
44,000 women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in England and Wales each year. Overall invasive ductal breast cancer is the most common type of invasive breast cancer. It also known as ‘no special type’ (NST) or ‘not otherwise specified’ (NOS). Invasive lobular breast cancer is another early invasive breast cancer but is less common.
There are many rarer types of early invasive breast cancer
- Inflammatory cancer
- Paget’s disease cancer
- Medullary breast cancer
- Metaplastic breast cancer
- Tubular breast cancer
- Mucinous breast cancer
- Malignant phyllodes tumors.
Treatment options for invasive breast cancer can include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy.
Breast Cancer Staging and Grading
Staging and grading are ways in which healthcare professionals describe the size of your breast cancer, whether and how far it has spread, and how fast it may grow (how ‘aggressive’ it is). Knowing your cancer’s stage and/or grade helps your breast care team to plan the best treatment for you.
Staging and grading usually happen after your breast tumor has been removed by surgery, as a pathologist will need to test the tissue in a laboratory and examine it under a microscope.
Breast Cancer Grading
The grade of a tumor indicates what the cells look like and gives an idea of how quickly cancer may grow and spread. Tumors usually graded between 1 and 3. A higher number indicates that the cells have greater differences in healthy cells and are likely to grow and spread more quickly. Grading for DCIS is different and is defined as low, medium, or high grade.
Breast Cancer Staging
Staging is used to assess the size of a tumor, whether it has spread and how far it has spread. There are two main methods used for defining the stage of cancer – the TNM system or a scale from 0 to 4. Your surgeon needs to determine whether cancer has spread to the armpit (axillary) lymph nodes, as this helps to plan treatment. If cancer has spread to the armpit, then additional treatments, such as chemotherapy, may help to reduce the chance of cancer returning in the future.
All women should have an ultrasound examination of the armpit area. This uses sound waves to make an image of the inside of the armpit, to see whether there is any sign of cancer in the lymph nodes. Lymph nodes glands found in your armpit and other areas of your body that are part of your immune system. Following the ultrasound, women will have a biopsy taken from their lymph nodes for testing, or their lymph nodes will be investigated during surgery.
Understanding staging terms
The tumor, nodes, metastases (TNM) system of
- T: the size of a tumor (a code from 1 to 4, with higher numbers indicating larger tumors)
- N: the number of lymph nodes affected (X for no nodes, and a code 0–3 when nodes are affected)
- M: whether cancer has spread to other areas of the body (0 for no spread, 1 for the spread).
Another way of defining the stage of cancer is on a scale
From 0 to 4:
- Stage 0: noninvasive breast cancers, such as Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
- Stages 1 and 2: quite small breast cancers that have spread only to the lymph nodes, if at all
- Stage 3: breast cancers that are often larger and have spread to the lymph nodes or surrounding tissues
- Stage 4: breast cancers that have spread to other areas of the body (metastatic breast cancers).
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