Unlike other illnesses, breast cancer is not actually caused by any specific factor. In fact, it is actually caused by the a host of different factors that often interact with each other. Breast cancer occurs when some cells in the breasts start to abnormally grow and spread to other tissues of the body. These cells are the ones that we call tumor cells. Contrary to popular opinion, not all tumors cause cancer. There are tumors that are actually benign and therefore cannot spread to the other parts of the body. These are not fatal. Malignant tumors however are the ones that grow and invade other tissue cells in the body. Ducts and glands are their primary targets.
Unknown to many, there are actually different kinds of breast cancer. Understanding each one can help you make sense of this condition that has claimed more than 40,000 lives in the United States alone and is the second leading cause of cancer death in the country after lung cancer. Here are some of the types and their descriptions:
Carcinoma in situ
This is the term that is often used for early stage cancer, especially when it is confined to a specific place where it first began. For instance, as mentioned before, breast cancer often starts at ducts and lobules. Carcinoma is used if the abnormal cells have not yet spread to other parts of the breast and has only remained at the root location. This is actually considered the stage 0 in breast cancer staging. Although this increases the risk of developing breast cancer in the future, this is actually not considered as already a breast cancer.
Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
The most common form of non-invasive breast cancer, DCIS is a term that is used to define cancer cells that have remained in the ducts and have not yet spread through its wall. This means that the fatty tissues that surround the breast have not been affected. Among the types of breast cancer, this is the most curable. In fact, most women with this condition get cured, perhaps because the cells are concentrated in just one area of the body.
Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)
Although not really breast cancer in the strictest sense, the lobular carcinoma in situ or LCIS for short should still be a cause of alarm as this problem can increase the risk of women getting cancer later in life. The condition is actually caused by the fact that the milk-making glands of the body do not get through the lobule walls.
Infiltrating (invasive) ductal carcinoma (IDC)
This is the most common form of breast cancer, accounting for about 80 percent of all invasive breast cancer cases. Often, cancerous cells starts in the milk passages and go through the ducts, breaks in the walls of walls of the ducts and spreads to the other parts of the breasts. If not detected and treated early, this kind of breast cancer can easily spread to the other parts of the body.
Infiltrating (invasive) lobular carcinoma (ILC)
Unlike the IDC, the infiltrating lobular carcinoma starts at the lobules instead of the ducts. The movement of the cancer cells are also the same. It goes through the passages and when left undetected and treated, can actually invade other cells in other parts of the body. This however is not as common, accounting for only 10 percent of the invasive breast cancer cases.