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Breast Cancer: Types, Causes & Symptoms

Raina Rahul Agarwal 21 Jun, 2022 Disease 2 Comments
Breast Cancer


Breast Cancer has been the most diagnosed disease worldwide, accounting for 1 in 4 cancer cases. According to WHO it was estimated in 2020 approx 2.3 million women diagnosed with breast cancer and 685000 deaths occurred globally. However, survival rates for breast cancer are very high at an early stage of detection but 50-80% of breast cancer are diagnosed at an advanced stage in many low and middle countries. In these countries, breast cancer treatment is expensive and difficult to treat.

What Is Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the breast. It is the growth of abnormal cells in the breast. It can occur in both breasts. Breast cancer can develop in both men and women. Abnormal cells develop in lumps in the affected area. Cancer develops in either the lobule or ducts of the breast. A breast is made up of three parts: lobules, ducts and connective tissue

Breast Cancer
Structure of Breast Cancer

Lobule: The lobule is a gland that produces milk.

Ducts: Ducts are the pathway that brings milk from the gland to the nipple.

Connective Tissue: Connective tissue is the fatty tissue and fibrous within the breast.

Breast Cancer can be metastasized, which means it can spread to other parts of the body through blood vessels and lymph vessels.

Symptoms Of Breast Cancer:

At an early stage of breast cancer, it does not cause any symptoms. In that case, the tumour may be too small to be felt, but abnormally can be seen with the help of a mammogram (x-ray picture of the breast). It can be felt when a tumour will develop into a lump. However, the development of the lump is the first sign of cancer but it will not be sure all lumps are the sign of cancer. Hence to ensure consult with a physician.

Breast Cancer
Early Signs of Breast Cancer

Different people have different symptoms and it also depends on the type of cancer. Symptoms of the breast cancer are:

  • Development of the new lumps underarms or in the breast. It will be thick that seem different from the surrounding area.
  • Red or discoloured pitted skin on the breast.
  • Irritation or dimpling of the skin.
  • Swelling in all or parts of the body.
  • A nipple discharge other than breast milk.
  • Bloody discharge from your nipple.
  • Any change in the size or shape of the breast.
  • Peeling, scaling or flaking of skin.
  • Inverted nipple
  • Changes to the appearance of the skin

If anyone has the above signs, please consult with a doctor immediately.

Causes Of Breast Cancer:

Breast cancer can occur on the abnormal growth of breast cells. Cancer cells divide more rapidly than normal healthy cells. Cancer cells divide and accumulate, forming a lump or mass. Cancer may metastasize. Breast Cancer starts with cells in the milk-producing ducts. It can also initiate in the glandular tissue i.e lobule.

Lifestyle and environmental factors are responsible for the risk of breast cancer. There are various risk factors:

  • Genetic Mutation
  • Getting older
  • Family history of breath cancer
  • Previous treatment using radiotherapy
  • Overweight after menopause
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Taking oral contraceptive pills
  • Not being physically active

Types Of Breast Cancer:

Breast Cancer
Ductal (DCIS) Lobular (LCIS) Other: Inflammatory. Paget’s, mucinous, medullary, tubular, and pregnancy-induced. 4 types of breast cancer are often described- LCIS- is not really cancer, a noninvasive condition that increases the risk of developing cancer in the future, 25 per cent of patients who have LCIS will develop breast cancer. 67.

Types of cancer are divided into two categories i) invasive and ii) Non-invasive

Non-Invasive- It is also known as breast cancer in situ.

Invasive Breast Cancer- In invasive breast cancer spreads from breast ducts or glands to other parts of the breast.

These categories are divided into the most common type of breast cancer:

Ductal Carcinoma in situ:

Ductal Carcinoma in situ (DCIS) comes under the category of Non-invasive breast cancer. In which abnormal cells are found in the lining of the breast milk duct. It does not invade the outside duct into the surrounding tissue. It is an early stage of cancer and treatable. If it is not treated or undetected at an early stage it may spread to the surrounding tissue of the breast duct.

Meaning of Carcinoma in situ: It is the term for early-stage of cancer. Carcinoma means “cancer” and in situ means “original state”.

Lobular Carcinoma in situ:

Lobular Carcinoma in situ (LCIS) is a state where abnormal cells are found in the lobular gland (milk-producing gland)  of the breast. The abnormal cells do not spread outside the lobules. It is treatable and rarely becomes invasive breast cancer. It may increase the risk of breast cancer in either breast.

Invasive Ductal carcinoma:

Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) is the most common type of breast cancer. It is initiated in the ducts of the breast and spreads beyond the ducts to other parts of the tissue. Once cancer invades the tissue it will spread to nearby organs and tissue.

Invasive Lobular Carcinoma:

Invasive lobular breast cancer is the second most common type of breast cancer. It begins in the lobular gland (milk-producing gland)and spreads to other tissue of the breast. It can spread to other body parts through the blood and lymph systems. It is also known as infiltrating lobular carcinoma or lobular breast cancer.

There are some less common types of breast cancer:


This type of cancer occurs in the blood vessels or lymph vessels in the breast.

Phyllodes Tumor:

This is very seldom breast cancer occurs in the connective tissue of the breast. Most of these tumours are benign, but some are cancerous.

Paget disease of the nipple:

This type of cancer starts in the duct of the nipple but as it grows it begins to affect other skin and the areola of the nipple.


Breast Cancer treatment can be very effective if the disease is detected at an early stage of cancer. Diagnosis of breast cancer involves surgical removal, radiotherapy, and medication to treat microscopic blood cancer from breast cancer. Such treatment which can prevent cancer from growing and spreading can save lives.

Disclaimer: All the content of this article is for information purposes only.


Raina Rahul Agarwal

A Non-Medical Scientist, BSL-2 Lab, Mirzapur

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