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What are the key words used to describe breast cancer?

It is important to understand some of the key words used to describe breast cancer.

Carcinoma

This is a term used to describe a cancer that begins in the lining layer (epithelial cells) of organs such as the breast. Nearly all breast cancers are carcinomas (either ductal carcinomas or lobular carcinomas).

Adenocarcinoma

An adenocarcinoma is a type of carcinoma that starts in glandular tissue (tissue that makes and secretes a substance). The ducts and lobules of the breast are glandular tissue (they make breast milk), so cancers starting in these areas are often called adenocarcinomas.

Carcinoma in situ

This term is used for the early stage of cancer, when it is confined to the layer of cells where it began. In breast cancer, in situ means that the cancer cells remain confined to ducts (ductal carcinoma in situ) or lobules (lobular carcinoma in situ). They have not grown into deeper tissues in the breast or spread to other organs in the body, and are sometimes referred to as non-invasive or pre-invasive breast cancers.

Invasive (infiltrating) carcinoma

An invasive cancer is one that has already grown beyond the layer of cells where it started (as opposed to carcinoma in situ). Most breast cancers are invasive carcinomas -- either invasive ductal carcinoma or invasive lobular carcinoma.

Sarcoma

Sarcomas are cancers that start from connective tissues such as muscle tissue, fat tissue, or blood vessels. Sarcomas of the breast are rare.
 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.