Breast Cancer

Macmillan Cancer Support

Each year, about 55,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK. It is more common in women who are aged 50 and over.

Breast cancer can be invasive or non-invasive (in-situ). When people talk about breast cancer, they usually mean invasive breast cancer. This is when cancer cells have spread outside the milk ducts or lobules where they started into surrounding breast tissue.

Types of breast cancer

There are different types of breast cancer. Knowing the type you have helps your doctors decide on the best treatment for you.

Most breast cancers are invasive and there are different types. They start in the ducts or lobes of the breast and spread into surrounding breast tissue. Breast cancer that has not spread outside the lobes or ducts is called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). It is the earliest possible form of breast cancer. It needs to be treated but is not life-threatening.

Invasive breast cancers can be grouped depending on how the cells look when they are examined under the microscope. The most common type of invasive breast cancer is ductal invasive. Invasive lobular breast cancer is a much less common type. Some other rarer types are:

  • Paget's disease of the breast – causes a red scaly rash on the skin of the nipple and is usually linked with DCIS or invasive breast cancer
  • inflammatory breast cancer – called this because the breast becomes inflamed and swollen

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