Breast cancer occurs when breast cells begin to grow abnormally. The image to the right shows how cancer cells may spread (metastasize) through your breast to other parts of your body through blood and lymph vessels. If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, tests will be done to find out if the cancer has spread.
Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) is considered the earliest form of breast cancer. DCIS is when abnormal cells are detected within the milk ducts. DCIS is non-invasive, which means it has not spread outside of the milk ducts to any of the surrounding breast tissue.
Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC) is the most common type of breast cancer. Invasive means the abnormal cells have spread outside the ducts (small tubes that conduct the milk to the nipples during breast feeding) and into the surrounding breast tissue.
Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC) means the abnormal cells have spread outside the walls of the lobules, which produces the milk that empties into the milk ducts, and into the surrounding breast tissue.
Invasive Mucinous Carcinoma is a rare subtype of Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in which the abnormal cells are within or “float” pools of mucin. It tends to be less aggressive and is less likely to spread to the lymph nodes.
Metastatic Breast Cancer is breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. The common areas are brain, liver, bones, and lungs. Breast cancer cells spread from the original tumor through the blood stream and the lymphatic system.
Inflammatory Breast Cancer is an aggressive form of breast cancer that usually presents with reddening and swelling of the skin rather than a distinctive mass. This type of breast cancer is rare and only accounts for 1% of all breast cancer cases in the United States.