Breast Cancer (cont.)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

In this Article

Is the doctor sure I have breast cancer?

Certain types of cancer are relatively easy to identify by standard microscopic evaluation of the tissue. This is generally true for the most common types of breast cancer. This obviously implies that you have had a biopsy that was then reviewed by a pathologist.

However, as the search for earlier and rarer forms of breast cancer progresses, it can be difficult to be certain that a particular group of cells is malignant (cancerous). At the same time, benign conditions may have cells which are somewhat distorted in appearance or pattern of growth (known as atypical cells or atypical hyperplasia). For this reason, it is important that the pathologist reading the slides of your breast biopsy be experienced in breast pathology. Most good pathology groups have multiple pathologists review questionable or troublesome slides. In more difficult cases, the slides will often be sent to recognized specialists with considerable expertise in breast pathology. In difficult cases, it is generally advisable to have an additional pathologist review the tissue slides, and you may ask your physician if this has been done. It is also possible for you to request that your tissue slides be provided to a pathologist of your own choosing for an additional review (see below).

What type of breast cancer do I have?

Breast cancer is not a single disease. There are many types of breast cancer, and they may have vastly different implications. Breast cancers range from localized cancers such as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) to invasive cancers that can rapidly spread (metastasize). In the middle of the spectrum are breast cancers, such as colloid carcinomas and papillary carcinomas that have a much more favorable outlook (prognosis) than the other more typically invasive breast cancers. Sometimes, noninvasive DCIS is found around invasive breast cancers.

The treatment team should be able to explain what type of cancer you have, how they determined this, and the treatment they recommend.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/25/2013

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Breast Cancer - How Was It Detected Question: How was your breast cancer detected?
Breast Cancer - Treatments Question: Please describe your experience with the treatments for your breast cancer.
Breast Cancer - Symptoms Question: What symptoms of breast cancer did you have before you were diagnosed?
Breast Cancer - Prognosis Question: Are you a breast cancer survivor? Please share your story.

STAY INFORMED

Get the Latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!