About Breast Cancer

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OverviewBreast cancer arises when cells within the breast grow and multiply abnormally. This process can lead to the formation of a lump or mass of extra cells, called a tumor. In many cases the tumors are non-cancerous, or benign. In the case of malignant tumors, the cells continue dividing uncontrollably and have the capacity to invade nearby tissues and potentially spread (metastasize) to distant sites. There is also a form of "noninvasive" breast cancer called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS); some DCIS tumors may become invasive. Today women with breast cancer have a variety of treatment options, depending on the stage and biology of their disease. Researchers also continue to learn more about the molecular biology of breast cancer, and are developing therapies that are increasingly targeted to specific subtypes of breast cancer. Types of Breast Cancer There are four major categories of tumors that can occur in the breast: Lobular Carcinoma in Situ (LCIS): Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) occurs when abnormal cells develop in the lobules. LCIS is not a cancer, but rather a marker of an increased risk of developing breast cancer in either breast. Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS): Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a preinvasive form of breast cancer in which cancer cells arise in the milk ducts, but have not spread. DCIS can progress over time and break out of the milk ducts to become invasive (infiltrating) breast cancer in some women. Treatment for DCIS may consist of surgery and radiation therapy. Invasive Cancer (also called Infiltrating Cancer): Invasive cancer cells spread outside of the structures in which they first arise, moving to surrounding tissues and sometimes into the lymph nodes. The majority of breast cancers begin in the ducts. Some develop in the lobules. Inflammatory Breast Cancer: Rarely, breast cancers appear as inflammatory changes in the breast that mimic other conditions such as a skin infection. The skin may appear red or discolored, or may take on a "peau d'orange" appearance (skin thickening with tiny dimples like an orange peel). Women who observe these breast changes should see a healthcare provider immediately. Breast Cancer at Memorial-Sloan Kettering Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center is recognized worldwide for its expertise in diagnosing and treating breast cancer. Our vast experience has allowed us to develop and refine all aspects of care for women with breast cancer. More than 80 board-certified physicians collaborate within a multidisciplinary team of breast cancer nurses and other healthcare professionals to provide comprehensive, compassionate care. Women can receive their care at the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center -- a model facility that centralizes services such as medical and surgical consultations, mammography, ultrasound and CT scan imaging, chemotherapy services, psychological and genetic counseling, and occupational therapy. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are also available at our regional network sites in the New York metropolitan area.