Types of Breast Cancer: Non-Invasive

Types of Breast Cancer: Non-Invasive

Types of Breast Cancer: Non-Invasive

A. Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC)

The presence of abnormal cells inside the breast’s milk ducts is a defining feature of DCIS. These cells have not invaded the surrounding breast tissue. Although DCIS is non-invasive, it is considered a precursor to invasive breast cancer. If left untreated, DCIS may progress to invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC). DCIS cells appear abnormal under a microscope and display different architectural patterns and nuclear grades.

Risk Factors:

Age and gender: DCIS is more commonly diagnosed in women, particularly between 40 and 60.

Family history: Your risk for DCIS is higher if you have close relatives battling breast cancer.

Genetic mutations: DCIS is more likely to develop in people with certain genetic mutations, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2.

Hormonal factors: Prolonged exposure to estrogen, either through hormone replacement therapy or early onset of menstruation, can be a risk factor for DCIS.

Diagnosis and Staging:

Mammography: DCIS is often detected through routine screening mammograms, where calcifications or suspicious areas are identified. A biopsy is performed to confirm the presence of DCIS and determine its characteristics, including grade and hormone receptor status. Unlike invasive cancer, DCIS is not assigned a stage as it does not involve the spread to lymph nodes or distant sites.

Treatment Options:

The main treatment for DCIS is the surgical removal of the abnormal cells, which can be achieved through breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy) or mastectomy. Radiation may be recommended following surgery to reduce the risk of local recurrence. Sometimes, hormone-blocking medications like tamoxifen may be prescribed if the DCIS cells are hormone receptor-positive. Participating in clinical trials may be one option to research cutting-edge medical techniques and approaches.

Prognosis and Follow-Up Care:

The prognosis for DCIS is generally excellent, with a low risk of recurrence or progression to invasive cancer. Regular follow-up visits, mammograms, and clinical breast exams are crucial to monitor for any signs of recurrence or the development of new breast cancer.

B. Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC):                              

Most cases of breast cancer, or about 80% of cases, are of invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC).  IDC cells can aggregate into a solid tumor mass and disseminate to neighboring lymph nodes and other body sites.

Subtypes of IDC:

a. Tubular carcinoma: Characterized by well-formed tubules within the tumor.

b. Medullary carcinoma: Exhibits a distinct growth pattern with a syncytial arrangement of tumor cells and a lymphocyte-rich infiltrate.

c. Papillary carcinoma: Features finger-like projections within the tumor, resembling papillae.

Types of Breast Cancer

Pathogenesis and Spread:               

IDC is brought on by mutations in particular genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, as well as other genetic and epigenetic changes. IDC cells can break through the ductal walls, invade the surrounding tissue, and spread to regional lymph nodes and distant sites.

Management of Metastatic IDC:

Metastatic IDC often requires systemic therapies such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and hormone therapy to control the spread of cancer and manage symptoms. Participation in clinical trials can provide access to novel treatments and therapies being investigated for metastatic breast cancer. Palliative care and supportive measures, including pain management and emotional support, are crucial in improving the quality of life for individuals with metastatic IDC.

C. Lobular Carcinoma In Situ (LCIS):

The disorder known as lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) is characterized by the uncontrolled proliferation of cells in the breast’s lobules. Unlike invasive cancer, LCIS does not invade the surrounding breast tissue or spread to other body areas. Under a microscope, LCIS cells are aberrant and may raise the possibility of developing invasive breast cancer later.

Distinction from Invasive Cancer and DCIS:

Unlike LCIS, invasive breast cancer is characterized by cancer cells that have invaded the surrounding breast tissue or spread to other body parts. While LCIS and DCIS are non-invasive conditions, they differ in origin. LCIS arises in the lobules, while DCIS originates in the milk ducts.

Risk Factors and Genetic Predisposition:

Hormonal factors: LCIS can occur due to elevated progesterone and estrogen levels.

Age and gender: LCIS is more commonly diagnosed in women, particularly those aged 40 and above.

Genetic predisposition: Certain genetic mutations, such as alterations in the CDH1 gene, are associated with an increased risk of developing LCIS.

Surveillance and Monitoring:

Individuals diagnosed with LCIS are advised to undergo regular breast screenings, including mammograms and clinical breast exams. In some cases, breast MRI may be recommended in addition to mammography to improve detection and surveillance. Risk assessment tools like the Gail or Tyrer-Cuzick models can help evaluate an individual’s overall risk of developing invasive breast cancer.

D. Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC):

Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC) is a type of breast cancer that starts in the breast’s lobules and invades the surrounding breast tissue. ILC cells typically grow in a single-file pattern and can be more challenging to detect through imaging and clinical examination than other breast cancer types.

Clinical Presentation and Detection Challenges: 

ILC may present as a thickening or fullness in the breast, a palpable mass, or breast asymmetry. ILC is often not detected by mammography alone due to its unique growth pattern and lack of distinct mass formation. It can lead to delayed diagnosis or underestimation of tumor size.

Imaging and Pathological Diagnosis:

In addition to mammography, other imaging modalities such as breast ultrasound, MRI, or molecular breast imaging may be used to aid in detecting and evaluating ILC. ILC is detected in biopsy samples using a microscope to determine its features, such as histological grade, hormone receptor status, and HER2/neu status.

Surgical and Non-surgical Treatment Approaches:

Surgical options: Surgical treatment for ILC may include breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy) or complete breast removal (mastectomy). Lymph node evaluation is also performed.

Additional treatments: Adjuvant treatments, including radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, or targeted therapy, may be indicated based on the patient’s characteristics and stage.

Prognosis and Long-term Outcomes:

The prognosis for ILC depends on various factors, including tumor size, stage at diagnosis, hormone receptor status, and overall health. Generally, the prognosis for ILC is comparable to invasive ductal carcinoma. Regular follow-up care, including surveillance imaging, clinical examinations, and monitoring for potential metastasis, is essential to detect any recurrence or new breast cancer development.

E. Triple-Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC):

TNBC is a heterogeneous disease with various molecular subtypes, often associated with aggressive tumor behavior.

Epidemiology and Risk Factors:

TNBC accounts for approximately 10-15% of all breast cancers. It is more prevalent in younger women, women with BRCA1 gene mutations, and certain ethnic groups. Risk factors for TNBC may overlap with those of other breast cancers, including family history, genetic predisposition, early age at first full-term pregnancy, and obesity.

Diagnostic Methods:

TNBC diagnosis is confirmed by IHC testing, which assesses the expression of ER, PR, and HER2 receptors on tumor cells. Genetic testing, especially for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, may be recommended for individuals with TNBC to determine potential treatment options and inform risk assessment for family members.

F. Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC):

One to five percent of all instances of breast cancer are aggressive and rare Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC). IBC is characterized by rapid onset and progression of symptoms, including redness, swelling, warmth, and a thickened appearance of the breast skin. Other symptoms may include itching, breast pain, nipple changes, and the presence of ridges or dimples on the breast.

Staging and Prognosis:

IBC is usually diagnosed at an advanced stage due to its aggressive nature. The lymph node involvement level, distant metastases, and tumor involvement all factor into the staging process. The prognosis for IBC is generally poorer compared to other types of breast cancer due to its tendency for rapid growth and potential for early spread.

Multimodal Treatment Approach:

Neoadjuvant chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is typically administered before surgery (neoadjuvant) to shrink the tumor and improve the chances of successful surgical removal.

Surgery: Surgical options may include mastectomy with or without axillary lymph node dissection. In some cases, breast-conserving surgery may be possible after a positive response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

Radiation therapy: After surgery, radiation therapy is frequently used to target any cancer cells that may still be present and lower the likelihood of a local recurrence. d. Systemic therapy: Depending on the specific characteristics of the tumor, additional systemic treatments such as targeted therapies, hormone therapy, or immunotherapy may be considered.

Supportive Care and Survivorship Considerations:

For those with advanced-stage or metastatic IBC, palliative care is essential for controlling symptoms, relieving discomfort, and enhancing the quality of life. The emotional impact of an IBC diagnosis can be significant, and access to support groups, counseling services, or mental health professionals is important for patients and their families. After treatment, regular follow-up visits, imaging studies, and clinical examinations are necessary to monitor for any signs of recurrence or new breast cancer development. Survivorship care may also include addressing long-term physical and psychosocial effects.

Paget’s Disease of the Breast:

An unusual form of breast cancer called Paget’s disease of the breast affects the skin around the nipple and areola. It is estimated that Paget’s disease accounts for approximately 1-4% of all breast cancer cases. In most cases, ductal carcinoma, either in situ (DCIS) or invasive ductal carcinoma, is present beneath Paget’s disease (IDC).

Clinical Manifestations and Symptoms:

Paget’s disease often presents with persistent redness, scaling, flaking, or crusting of the nipple and areola. Some individuals may experience itching, tingling, or a burning sensation in the affected area. Clear or bloody nipple discharge may occur in some cases.

Relationship to Underlying Breast Cancer:

Paget’s disease is commonly associated with underlying ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), where abnormal cells are confined to the milk ducts. Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) that has penetrated the breast tissue around the milk ducts and spread can occasionally be linked to Paget’s disease.

Types of Breast Cancer

Treatment Options and Outcomes:

Surgical options: Treatment usually involves surgical removal of the affected breast tissue, either through breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy) or mastectomy.

Radiation therapy: Radiation may be recommended following surgery to reduce the risk of local recurrence.

Systemic therapy: Depending on the characteristics of the underlying breast cancer, systemic treatments such as chemotherapy or hormone therapy may be included in the treatment plan.

Prognosis: The prognosis for Paget’s disease depends on the stage of the underlying breast cancer. Early detection and care can increase survival rates and produce positive results.

Recurrent and Metastatic Breast Cancer:

Recurrent breast cancer has returned after initial treatment, either in the same breast or a different body area. Breast cancer that has metastasized, commonly known as stage IV breast cancer, affects distant organs such as the bones, liver, lungs, or brain.

Sites of Metastasis and Clinical Implications:

Metastatic breast cancer can spread to various organs, including bones, liver, lungs, brain, and distant lymph nodes.  The presence of metastatic breast cancer indicates an advanced stage of the disease and may require more aggressive treatment approaches.


In conclusion, breast cancer encompasses various types and subtypes, each with unique characteristics, diagnostic approaches, and treatment strategies. Understanding the different types of breast cancer, such as Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS), Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC), Lobular Carcinoma In Situ (LCIS), Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC), Triple-Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC), HER2-Positive Breast Cancer, Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC), Paget’s Disease of the Breast, and Recurrent and Metastatic Breast Cancer, is crucial for accurate diagnosis, appropriate treatment decisions, and improved patient outcomes.

As a non-invasive breast cancer, DCIS requires careful surveillance and management to prevent progression to invasive disease. The most typical form of breast cancer, IDC, is characterized by the invasion of cancer cells into the surrounding tissue, necessitating a multimodal treatment strategy. LCIS, although not true cancer, increases the risk of invasive breast cancer and requires regular monitoring. ILC, characterized by a unique growth pattern, poses challenges in detection and diagnosis. TNBC, lacking hormone receptors and HER2 expression, presents treatment challenges, but emerging therapies offer hope for improved outcomes.

Dr Saba Shahzad

I am Dr. Saba Shahzad, a medical student, and writer. My background in the medical field has given me a deep understanding of the latest research and trends, which I can translate into clear and easy-to-understand language for a lay audience. As a medical student, I am constantly learning new information and expanding my knowledge in the field, which I can apply to my work as a medical writer. Alongside my passion for the medical field, I also have a hobby of writing, specifically creative fiction. I spend my free time exploring new genres and honing my craft, and I have had work published in various literary magazines and online publications. My writing hobby complements my career as a medical writer, as it allows me to think creatively and approach problems from different angles. I am also a dedicated and hardworking individual who desires to excel in everything I do. With my combination of medical expertise, writing talent, and want to excel, I can provide valuable and accurate medical communication for any team in need. My medical and writing skills would be an asset to any organization.

Post a Comment