Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis can be a shock. That’s why Hilton Head Regional Healthcare provides a nationally accredited program that gives access to tests, screenings and treatments in an environment that’s also compassionate and comforting for our patients.
The Breast Health Center at our Bluffton Medical campus location is fully accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers and has been duly designated as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology. The facility is next door to our imaging department so you can get any other scans you need all in one location without the trouble of visiting multiple locations for your screenings.
There are many different types of breast cancer. They differ depending on which part of the breast the cancer cells began and where it has spread. The breast has three main parts including the lobules, ducts and connective tissue.
The lobules are the milk-producing gland in the breast while the ducts are the pathways that help carry milk to the nipple. The connective tissue is a fibrous and fatty tissue that holds everything together. It is said to have metastasized when the breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body through blood vessels and lymph vessels.
Types of Breast Cancer Based on Where It Starts or Spreads
The different types of breast cancer refer to whether the cancer has spread or not. These are broken down into two main categories:
- In situ breast cancer – also called noninvasive breast cancer, which means the cancer has not spread from the original tissue
- Invasive or infiltrating breast cancer – a type of breast cancer that has already spread from the breast ducts or glands and has invaded the surrounding breast tissue
What Is the Most Common Breast Cancer Type?
These two categories are used to describe the most common types of breast cancer. Most tumors in the breast start in the epithelial cells or carcinomas. These cells line organs and tissue throughout the body. The following are the most common types of breast cancer:
- Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) – also known as intraductal carcinoma, is a noninvasive or preinvasive breast cancer. This means the cancer cells are confined within the ducts in the breast and have not spread to the rest of the surrounding tissue.
- Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) – cancer that grows in the milk-producing glands of the breast and like DCIS, the cancer cells have not spread to other tissue.
- Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) – the most common type of breast cancer based on the origin of the cancer. It makes up about 70-80% of all breast cancers. This type of breast cancer begins in the milk ducts then spreads to the surrounding tissue and nearby organs.
- Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) – cancer that forms in the breast’s lobules and infiltrates nearby tissue.
There are other types of breast cancers that have special features or develop in different ways that may be less common but can be more fatal than other common types of breast cancer.
Special Types of Invasive Breast Cancer
- Triple-negative breast cancer – an aggressive type of invasive breast cancer that is difficult to treat and accounts for about 15% of all breast cancers.
- Inflammatory breast cancer – an uncommon type of invasive breast cancer that accounts for about 1-5% of all breast cancers.
- Metastatic breast cancer – a type of invasive breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones, lungs or liver. It is also known as stage 4 breast cancer.
Less Common Types of Breast Cancer
- Paget’s disease of the breast – an invasive type of rare breast cancer that forms in the breast ducts then spreads to the skin of the nipple and then to the areola. It accounts for about 1-3% of all cases of breast cancer.
- Angiosarcoma – an invasive type of breast cancer that makes up less than 1% of all breast cancers. Cancer starts in cells that line the blood vessels or lymph vessels and invades the rest of the tissue and other nearby organs.
- Phyllodes tumor – a type of invasive rare breast cancer that develops in the connective tissue of the breast and spreads to other surrounding tissue and organs. Although most are benign, they can also be malignant at times.
How Is Breast Cancer Usually Treated?
Treatment for breast cancer depends partly on how far along the cancer has spread and how big the tumor has grown. It normally involves surgery, but many people have more than one kind of treatment. This includes local treatments or treating breast cancer without affecting the rest of the body; or systemic treatments or the use of drugs to destroy cancer cells almost anywhere in the body.
- Surgery – an operation where doctors cut out cancer tissue through lumpectomy (removal of the lump only) or mastectomy (surgical removal of the entire breast).
- Chemotherapy – the use of anti-cancer drugs to shrink or destroy cancerous cells. May be taken orally, through the veins or sometimes both.
- Hormonal therapy – blocks cancer cells from the female hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, that can stimulate the growth of breast cancer tumors.
- Immunotherapy – drugs that help stimulate the body’s immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells more effectively or to control side effects from other cancer treatments.
- Radiation therapy – use of high-energy X-rays or gamma rays to destroy cancer cells that remain after surgery or recur where the tumor was removed. It is also used to help lower the risk of the recurrence of cancer after breast-conserving surgery or mastectomy.
From routine mammograms to chemotherapy and surgery, we are here for you with the resources and expertise needed to detect, identify and treat breast cancer. This may include referrals to other oncology professionals assisting in your care. Our multi-specialty team includes experienced oncologists and plastic surgeons, radiologists, mammography technologists, nurses, navigators, psychologists, nutritionists, social workers and other professionals.
We understand that breast cancer can be physically and emotionally distressing for women, so our navigators are here to help you understand your diagnosis, coordinate appointments with other departments, get you to the next phase of treatment and recommend follow up care and surveillance.
Our Breast Health Center offers:
- Stereotactic Breast Biopsy
- Breast Ultrasound (including ultrasound-guided breast biopsy)
- Breast MRI
- SAVI SCOUT technology-assisted surgery
- Risk evaluations and risk reduction strategies
- Genetic discussion and referrals
- Programs for high-risk women
- Breast health nurse educators
- Clinical trial participation opportunities through the MUSC Health Hollings Cancer Center
- Survivorship program
- Breast cancer support group
Our goal is to help you navigate your fight against cancer with the latest technologies and procedures available today here in the Lowcountry with compassionate care. To schedule a mammogram, call 833-342-3607.
If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, it is important to talk to your doctor about the treatment options available for your type and stage of cancer. Please don’t delay care. We are here for you with safe care to ensure you get the help that you deserve in your fight against cancer.