There are two categories that reflect the nature of breast cancer:
- Noninvasive (in situ) cancer is cancer that hasn’t spread from the original tissue. This is referred to as stage 0.
- Invasive (infiltrating) cancer is cancer that’s spread to surrounding tissues. These are categorized as stages 1, 2, 3, or 4, depending on how far it has spread.
The tissue affected determines the type of cancer. For example:
- Ductal carcinoma. Ductal carcinoma is a cancer that forms in the lining of the milk ducts. This is the most common type of breast cancer.
- Lobular carcinoma. Lobular carcinnoma is cancer in the lobules of the breast. The lobules are where milk is produced.
- Sarcoma. This is cancer that starts in the breast’s connective tissue.
- Angiosarcoma. This type starts in cells that line blood vessels or lymph vessels.
Breast cancer can also be categorized based on certain features, although early signs and symptoms are similar. Among them are.
- Hormone-positive breast cancer. Hormone positive breast cancer are fueled by estrogen and/or progesterone.
- HER2-positive breast cancer. Human epidermal growth factor is a naturally occurring protein that helps breast cancer cells thrive. If your cancer has high levels of this protein, it’s called HER’2-positive.
- Triple-negative breast cancer. Triple-negative breast cancer tests negative for estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and HER2.
- Papillary breast cancer. Under microscopic examination, papillary breast cancer has small, finger-like growths called papules. It can be made up of both invasive and noninvasive cells.
- Metaplastic breast cancer. Metaplastic breast cancer may contain abnormal ductal cells along with other types of cells, like skin or bone cells that aren’t usually found there. It’s typically triple-negative.
Some types of breast cancer are more likely to present with symptoms other than a breast lump. For example:
- Inflammatory breast cancer. In inflammatory breast canceer, cancer cells block lymph vessels in the skin of the breast. It is so named because the breast appears swollen, red, and inflamed.
- Paget’s disease of the breast. Paget’s disease develops around the skin of the nipple and areola. The area may look red and crusty or scaly. The nipple may flatten or become inverted and there may be blood or yellow discharge. Other symptoms include burning or itching.
- Metastatic breast cancer.Metastatic breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread to distant parts of the body. It’s also called advanced or stage 4 breast cancer. Symptoms may include weight loss, unexplained pain, and fatigue.
Male breast cancer
Breast cancer isn’t typically associated with people who were assigned male at birth. But male breast cancer can occur in rare instances at any age, although it’s more common in older men.
Many people don’t realize that everyone has breast cells, and those cells can undergo cancerous changes. Because male breast cells are much less developed than female breast cells, breast cancer isn’t as common in this part of the population.
The most common symptom of breast cancer in people assigned male at birth is a lump in the breast tissue. In addition to a lump, symptoms of male breast cancer include:
- thickening of the breast tissue
- nipple discharge
- redness or scaling of the nipple
- a nipple that retracts or turns inward
- unexplained redness, swelling, skin irritation, itchiness, or rash on the breast
- swollen lymph nodes beneath the arm
Since men may not regularly check their breast tissue for signs of lumps, male breast cancer is often diagnosed at a later stage.