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Breast Cancer

 
Breast Cancer

Chapter: 3 - Breast Cancer

Subchapter: 3 - Types of Tumors

Remember, a tumor is a mass of abnormal tissue. There are two types of tumors: those that are non-cancerous, or ‘benign’, and those that are cancerous, which are ‘malignant’.

Benign Tumors
When a tumor is diagnosed as benign, doctors usually leave it alone rather than remove it. Even though these tumors are not aggressive toward surrounding tissue, they may continue to grow, pressing on organs and causing pain or other problems. In these situations, the tumor is removed, allowing pain or complications to subside.

Malignant Tumors
Malignant tumors are cancerous and aggressive, because they invade and damage surrounding tissue. When a tumor is suspected to be malignant, the doctor will preform a biopsy, a diagnostic procedure which we will cover in Sub–Chapter 4.3, to determine the severity of the tumor.

Metastatic Cancer
Metastatic cancer is when cancer cells of a malignant tumor spread to other parts of the body, usually through the lymph system, and form a secondary tumor.

Tumor Grades
Tumor grading is a system used to classify a malignant tumor based upon the severity of the mutation and the likelihood that it will spread. According to the National Cancer Institutes's tumor grading system, there are four grades: low grade (1), intermediate grade (2) and two types of high grades (3 & 4). Grade 1 tumor cells, for example, are the least aggressive in behavior; they still resemble healthy cells and multiply at a slower rate. Higher grade tumors tend to grow and spread more rapidly than tumors of a lower grade.

Tumor grades are not to be confused with cancer stages, which we will discuss in detail in Chapter 5.

In this chapter, we looked at where cancer usually begins, reasons why it grows, how it spreads, the importance of evaluating the tumor for certain receptors, and the difference between benign and malignant tumors.

Now it’s time to get a better understanding of your diagnosis.

Related Questions

  • Blair Jenkins Profile

    I was recently reading my pathology report and it said Triple Negative Breast Cancer grade 9 (3+3+3) on the nottingham scale - my tumor was about 6cm but had not spread to any lymph nodes - what is grade 9?

    Asked by anonymous

    Survivor since 2009
    over 8 years 2 answers
    • Janelle Strunk Profile
      anonymous
      Family Member or Loved One

      Hi Blair,

      I was curious about your question and did a bit of research. Here is the best answer I came up with. It was given by:

      Kevin R. Fox, MD, Assistant Director, Clinical Affairs and Associate Professor of Hematology/Oncology at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of...

      more

      Hi Blair,

      I was curious about your question and did a bit of research. Here is the best answer I came up with. It was given by:

      Kevin R. Fox, MD, Assistant Director, Clinical Affairs and Associate Professor of Hematology/Oncology at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

      The Nottingham histologic score is simply a scoring system to assess the "grade" of breast cancers.

      It is a total score based on 3 different sub-scores. The 3 sub-scores are assigned based on 3 components of how the breast cancer cells look under a microscope. (The details of these 3 components are not critical for you to understand). Each of the 3 components is assigned a sub-score of 1, 2, or 3, with 1 being best and 3 being worst. Once the 3 sub-scores are added, a Nottingham score is obtained: the minimum score possible is 3 (1+1+1) and the maximum possible is 9 (3+3+3).

      A histologic grade of III is assigned to any patient with a Nottingham score of 8 or 9. Grade I refers to Nottingham scores of 3, 4, and 5, while Grade II refers to Nottingham scores of 6 and 7.

      In the end, the Nottingham score and histologic grades are not very useful in the big picture, as they do not alter final overall treatment recommendations. High-score cancers tend to relapse more often than low-score cancers. Ultimately, however, we don't use the score in making clinical decisions.

      I hope that this helps clear up any confusion. I wish you the best.

      4 comments
    • Sarah Adams Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2010

      Do you have a family history? If yes, I suggest genetic testing for the BRCA gene mutation.

      1 comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    I have been on BC since early 20's because of PCOS. No final diagnosis yet but it is ER and PR +. Will talk to doc about going off BC but OB said keeping cycle regular will also be key. Has anyone experienced anything like this and what are you on now?

    Asked by anonymous

    stage_4 Patient
    over 5 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • André Roberts Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      I'm not sure what PCOS is, but I too had been on birth control pills since my teens. Now that I have breast cancer that is ER/PR I had to stop them immediately . Being ER means the cancer cells feed off of hormones. I got my tubes tied. Didn't want to take any chances. Prayers to you.

      2 comments
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Talk to your oncologist. With ER+ PR+ I sure wouldn't want to be feeding my breast cancer by taking BC pills. What is recommended to one patient may not be appropriate for another. When I was diagnosed, the surgeon and oncologist took me off hormones, instantly. Your oncologist and surgeon...

      more

      Talk to your oncologist. With ER+ PR+ I sure wouldn't want to be feeding my breast cancer by taking BC pills. What is recommended to one patient may not be appropriate for another. When I was diagnosed, the surgeon and oncologist took me off hormones, instantly. Your oncologist and surgeon may suggest something different. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    I've had an ongoing rash on the side of my breast for over a year now. It is terribly itchy and nothing seems to work. Creams, oils, you name it. My areola has also changed in color and I can sometimes feel a pencil like bump. I'm 25, should I be worried?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 4 years 7 answers
    • View all 7 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Kristine,
      Please go see a specialist. It is concerning about the color change in your skin. We are all dancing around the fear of breast cancer. Unfortunately, even at your very young age, it isn't unheard of any more to have that kind of diagnosis. There are a million other things it could...

      more

      Kristine,
      Please go see a specialist. It is concerning about the color change in your skin. We are all dancing around the fear of breast cancer. Unfortunately, even at your very young age, it isn't unheard of any more to have that kind of diagnosis. There are a million other things it could be but this is the most problematic. I would go to a women's clinic, with multiple physicians. I would ask when making the appointment you would like to see someone who may be more of a specialist in breast health and treatment with breast problems. When you go there, you want the doctor not to brush you off or give you some cremes and send you on your way. If they do, of course, do what they tell you, but if it does not get better, keep after them. Ultimately, you may have to have a sample of tissue sent to a lab. Don't stop seeking help UNTIL you get a definitive answer. You have to be your own best advocate, no matter how scary it is. Please contact an office Monday and make an appointment. I would like you to contact us again with a report. Hang in there and take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      It's probably nothing but only a Dr can confirm that. Make an Appt just to ease your worries

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    I have some pain underneath my left breast, but I don't feel a lump. It feels like a bruise, but I can't find one. Do all breast cancers come with lumps?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 6 years 3 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      No. My cancer was Invasive Lobular Cancer. I never had a lump it wasn't found untill the mass was 7.3

      Comment
    • André Roberts Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      No, there doesn't have to be a lump present, or that you can feel. Any time you have pain or changes to your breasts, you should get it checked. Better to be safe then sorry. Prayers to you.

      Comment

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