Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women. Cancer occurs when cells become abnormal and divide without any order or control. The most common types of breast cancer include ductal carcinoma (in the lining of the breast duct) and lobular carcinoma (in the breast lobule). Other types of breast cancer are uncommon.
Metastatic Breast Cancer
Cancer that has spread outside of the breast is often found in the lymph nodes under the arm (axilla). If the cancer has reached the lymph nodes, this may indicate that the cancer has spread to other parts of the body such as bone, lungs, or liver. This is called metastatic breast cancer.
Early breast cancers usually do not cause symptoms or pain. But as the cancer grows, changes can occur that you need to be aware of, such as:
- A lump or thickening in or near the breast or underarm
- A change in the size or shape of the breast, areola, or nipple (dimpled, red, puckered, scaly)
- A clear or bloody nipple discharge
- A change in texture or color of the skin on the breast
If you notice any of these changes, call your physician for an appointment immediately.
An abnormal mammogram, lump or other breast changes require evaluation by a physician. Based on the physical exam, palpation of the breast, mammogram, or ultrasound, the physician may order a needle biopsy to evaluate the breast tissue for a diagnosis (most biopsies do not show cancer cells). If cancer is found, a pathologist will identify what type of cancer it is and whether it is invasive. Once the physician has the biopsy results, treatment options will be discussed and individual recommendations made.
More About Breast Cancer
- Breast Cancer Facts vs. Myths
- Chances of Breast Cancer Recurrence or Spread
- Comparing Types of Biopsies
- Exercise and Breast Cancer
- Exercises After Breast Surgery - American Cancer Society
- Follow-Up Care After Completion of Initial Treatment
- Information About Your Tumor
- Nutrition Recommendations
- Understanding Laboratory Results