September 20, 2019

What Are the Different Types of Breast Cancer?

types of breast cancer

There are many different types of breast cancer. They’re differentiated by the types of cells in the breast in which they develop. For example, most breast cancers are carcinomas. This means that they start in cells that line organs and tissues. Adenocarcinomas start in glandular tissue in the milk ducts or the lobules (milk-producing glands).

Other kinds of breast cancer include sarcomas, phyllodes, angiosarcomas, and Paget’s disease. These conditions develop in connective tissue, muscle or fat. A type of breast cancer can also be categorized as in situ (meaning it hasn’t spread from its area of origin), invasive/infiltrating (meaning it has spread to surrounding breast tissue) or metastatic (meaning it has spread to areas beyond the breast, such as the brain, lungs or bones).

These characteristics are used to describe different kinds of breast cancer, like:

  • Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC)
  • Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS)
  • IDC Type: Tubular Carcinoma of the Breast
  • IDC Type: Mucinous Carcinoma of the Breast
  • IDC Type: Papillary Carcinoma of the Breast
  • IDC Type: Medullary Carcinoma of the Breast
  • IDC Type: Cribriform Carcinoma of the Breast
  • Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC)
  • Inflammatory Breast Cancer
  • Lobular Carcinoma In Situ (LCIS)
  • Molecular Subtypes of Breast Cancer
  • Paget’s Disease of the Nipple
  • Phyllodes Tumors of the Breast
  • Metastatic Breast Cancer
  • Male Breast Cancer

Most Common Types of Breast Cancer

Carcinomas are the most common type of breast cancer. They can be divided into different kinds of breast cancer based on the characteristics mentioned above:

Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS)

This type of cancer is also called intraductal carcinoma and Stage 0 breast cancer. It’s a non-invasive or pre-invasive breast cancer, which means the cancerous cells haven’t spread to other tissues.

Lobular Carcinoma In Situ (LCIS)

Also called lobular neoplasia, this condition isn’t actually a cancer. Its name is confusing, but in LCIS, cells look like cancer but don’t grow through the walls of the lobules.

Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC)

Approximately 80% of invasive breast cancers are IDC. This cancer originates in cells that line the milk ducts in the breasts. The cancerous cells then go through the wall and grow into adjacent tissue, where they can metastasize (spread) to other areas of the body through the bloodstream and lymph system.

Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC)

This cancer starts in the milk-producing glands (lobules) and can metastasize to other areas of the body. Approximately 10% of invasive breast cancers are ILC.

Rare Types of Breast Cancer

There are also more rare types of breast cancer. These different kinds of breast cancer include:

Inflammatory Breast Cancer

An invasive breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer accounts for 5% or less of all breast cancers.

Paget’s Disease of the Nipple

This type of cancer originates in the breast ducts and spreads to the skin of the nipple. From there, it moves to the areola. Paget’s disease of the nipple accounts for just 1-3% of breast cancer.


This rare cancer starts in cells that line blood vessels or lymph vessels. It can occur in the skin of the breast or breast tissue.

Phyllodes Tumor

These tumors develop in the connective tissue of the breast. Most are benign, but some are malignant (cancerous).

Male Breast Cancer

All men have a small amount of breast tissue. This tissue can become cancerous. When it does, the symptoms, detection, diagnosis, and treatment of male breast cancer are similar to those of breast cancer in women.

Learn More About the Types of Breast Cancer from Baptist Health

Take a Health Risk Assessment (HRA) questionnaire to estimate your personal health risk and identify your risk factors for breast cancer.

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