If a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, typically, she will be diagnosed either with non-invasive breast cancer or invasive breast cancer.
The difference between the two is the following:
Non-Invasive Breast Cancer is when the cancer cells are in its starting point and have not moved out of that area. For those diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) or lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), the “in situ” definition means “in its original place.”
In these instances, ductal carcinoma in situ has remained in the milk ducts, whereas lobular carcinoma in situ means the cancer is within the lobules.
When one is diagnosed with DCIS or LCIS, steps for surgery and/or treatment is dependent on a patient’s breast cancer family history and any genetic testing done. This is the earliest stage of cancer since the cancer has not broken out of its place of origin.
Depending on the patient and their genetic risk, some breast cancer surgeons and oncologists may agree that a lymph node should be tested and/or removed on the side where the breast cancer was detected. Ruling out cancer advancements and being extra cautious in certain patient cases is incredibly important.
Invasive Breast Cancer, on the other hand, means the cancer “broke out” from its place of origin be it in the ducts or lobules and advanced to other neighboring tissues. If one is diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, a number of lymph nodes will be removed and tested.
Because invasive cancer has the ability to get into the lymphatic system or the bloodstream, a breast cancer “stage” diagnosis will help determine the right course of surgery and or treatment.
A reconstructive plastic surgeon may also be part of the medical protocol.
Another type of breast cancer, considered rare, is inflammatory breast cancer (IBC).
Because IBC is a sheet-like structure, mammograms cannot pick it up because it’s not like a regular breast cancer tumor. There’s no nodule to detect, but there are different signs.
IBC blocks the skin’s lymph vessels which will cause breast inflammation, tenderness, warmth, and redness. At first, a woman may mistake it for a rash or infected bug bite. Of course, if these signs persist more than a week, do seek a breast health specialist or your doctor for their advice.
Monthly breast self-exams, regular mammograms, and other forms of breast health screenings empower mothers, sisters, daughters and friends to “fight the fight.”