Just like every other woman who undergoes a yearly mammogram or breast ultrasound, I waited patiently for 5 days to find out the results. I finally did receive the letter in the mail stating that they were pleased to inform me that my latest mammogram did not show any evidence of breast cancer. However, it also said that while a mammogram is the best single method of detecting breast cancer, it does not find all breast cancers and the American Cancer Society encourages women to report any breast changes to their Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN) doctor or family physician. Once you or your physician notices any changes in your breast, additional testing should be done to help make an early diagnosis of breast cancer. Because breast cancer can begin in different areas of the breast, with different symptoms, it is important to know the potential signs or symptoms of early breast cancer, even in men. Below is a few ways breast cancer can present itself:
Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is the most common type of non-invasive breast cancer. Ductal means that the abnormal cells are inside the milk ducts, carcinoma means cancer, and “in situ” means in its original place. DCIS is called non-invasive because it hasn’t spread beyond the milk duct into any normal, healthy, surrounding breast tissue.
Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), is also called infiltrating ductal carcinoma, and is the most common type of breast cancer. About 80% of all breast cancers are invasive ductal carcinomas. IDC refers to cancer that has broken through the wall of the milk duct and invaded other tissues of the breast. If not diagnosed early enough, it could spread or metastasize to the lymph nodes and other areas of the body such as the bone.
Tubular carcinoma of the breast is a type of invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC). Tubular carcinomas are usually small (about 1 cm or less) and made up of tube-shaped or straw-like structures called “tubules.” These tumors tend to be low-grade, meaning that their cells look somewhat similar to normal, healthy cells, and tend to grow slowly.
Medullary carcinoma of the breast is a rare subtype of invasive ductal carcinoma and accounts for about 3-5% of all breast cancer cases. It is called “medullary” carcinoma because the mass or tumor is a soft, fleshy mass that resembles a part of the brain called the medulla.
Mucinous carcinoma of the breast is also called colloid carcinoma and it is a rare form of invasive ductal carcinoma. With this type of cancer, the tumor or mass is made up of abnormal cells that “float” in pools of mucin or mucus.
Invasive papillary carcinomas of the breast are rare and are usually diagnosed in postmenopausal women. An invasive papillary carcinoma usually has a well-defined border and is made up of small, finger-like projections. In most cases of invasive papillary carcinoma, ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is also present.
In invasive cribriform carcinoma, the breast cancer cells invade the stroma, or connective tissues of the breast, in a nest-like formation in between the ducts and lobules. In the tumor, there are distinctive holes in between the cancer cells, making it look like Swiss cheese on imaging studies. Invasive cribriform carcinoma is usually low grade, meaning that its cells look and behave somewhat like normal, healthy breast cells, but they may not be.
Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) is also called infiltrating lobular carcinoma and is the second most common type of breast cancer after invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC). ILC is breast cancer that has broken through the wall of the lobule and invaded the tissues of the breast. Over time, invasive lobular carcinoma can spread to the lymph nodes and possibly to other areas of the body if not diagnosed early enough.
Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer that usually starts with the reddening and swelling of the breast instead of a distinct lump. IBC tends to grow and spread quickly, with symptoms worsening within days or even hours. It’s important to recognize the symptoms of IBC and seek treatment immediately.
Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) is an area of abnormal cell growth that increases a man or women’s risk of developing breast cancer later on in life. Despite the fact that its name includes the term “carcinoma,” LCIS is not really breast cancer. Rather, LCIS is an indication that a person is at higher-than-average risk for getting breast cancer at some point in the future.
Breast cancer in men is a rare disease but it still occurs. In 2011, about 2,140 men were diagnosed with the breast cancer. You may be thinking to yourself, men don’t have breasts, so how can they get breast cancer? The reality is that girls and boys, women and men all have breast tissue, just in different sizes due to male or female hormones.
Paget’s disease of the nipple is a rare form of breast cancer where cancer cells collect in or around the nipple of the breast. The cancer usually affects the ducts of the nipple first and then spreads to the nipple surface and the areola or the dark circle of skin around the nipple. Signs and symptoms of this breast cancer disease may start out with the nipple and areola becoming scaly, red, itchy, and irritated.
Phyllodes tumors of the breast are rare, accounting for less than 1% of all breast tumors. Phyllode means “leaf-like” and that is how the cancer grows and looks on imaging. Another name for Phyllode tumors is cystosarcoma phyllodes. Although most phyllodes tumors are benign or not cancerous, some of them can be malignant or cancer.
Since breast cancer can present itself is so many different ways with various signs and symptoms, even in men, it is extremely important that your physician or OB/GYN recognize these potential signs or symptoms of breast cancer even if a mammogram or ultrasound was read as normal. If breast cancer is not diagnosed and properly treated as soon as possible, it could lead to metastatic disease where the cancer spreads to other areas of the body such as the bone, lungs, lymph nodes, liver and brain.
If there was a delay in diagnosing your or a family members breast cancer, the injured person or loved one may be eligible for compensation. The Philadelphia Beasley medical malpractice law firm is a nationally recognized medical malpractice and wrongful death firm that has been awarded over $2 billion for their clients. In addition to our experienced attorneys, we also have on staff two physicians and three registered nurses, in addition to decades of expertise that made us a leader in this field. Our collective knowledge assisted in obtaining two of the largest medical negligence verdicts in Pennsylvania history, $100 million and $55 million, as well as hundreds of other multimillion dollar judgments and settlements.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to a delay in diagnosing and treating breast cancer, please contact one of our experienced attorneys, doctors, or nurses for a strictly confidential and free consultation.
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