The breast cancer pathology report is an important basis for oncologists to formulate follow-up treatment plans. However, many breast cancer patients and their families fail to read due to the strong professionalism of pathological reports. In order to help people to have better understanding of the medical terminology in the report, we have collated the common terms in the report for preliminary interpretation.
If you want to know more about the report on breast cancer, you can make an appointment online or contact us at 02-8221222 (Manila Office) or 0917-599-2277 (Cebu Office), professional oncologists will help to answer your questions.
The type of breast cancer is determined by the specific cells in the breast that are affected. Most breast cancers are carcinomas. Carcinoma are tumors that start in the epithelial cells that line organs and tissues throughout the body. Most breast cancers are a type of carcinoma called adenocarcinoma, which starts in cells that make up glands. There are other, less common, types of breast cancers, such as sarcomas, phyllodes, Paget disease, and angiosarcomas which start in the cells of the muscle, fat, or connective tissue. According to breast cancer pathology report, Breast cancer is divided into two main types: carcinoma in situ and invasive carcinoma.
Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) is a non-invasive or pre-invasive breast cancer. This means the cells that line the ducts have changed to cancer cells but they have not spread through the walls of the ducts into the nearby breast tissue. Because DCIS hasn’t spread into the breast tissue around it, it can’t spread beyond the breast to other parts of the body. DCIS is considered a pre-cancer but sometimes it can become an invasive cancer.
Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC) is the most common type of breast cancer. IDC starts in the cells that line a milk duct in the breast, breaks through the wall of the duct, and grows into the nearby breast tissues. At this point, it may be able to spread to other parts of the body through the lymph system and bloodstream. About 8 of 10 invasive breast cancer are invasive ductal carcinoma.
Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC) starts in the milk-producing glands. Like IDC, it can spread to other parts of the body. About 1 invasive breast cancer in 10 is an ILC.
Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) is rare, only 1%-3% of all breast cancer. It is not a new type of breast cancer, but it is very important to distinguish IBC from other types of breast cancer because there are major differences in its symptoms, prognosis, and treatment. Normally there isn’t any obvious mass but IBC causes redness involving more than one-third of the breast, pitting or thickening of the skin of the breast so that it may look and feel like an orange peel. IBC doesn’t look like a typical breast cancer, it might not show up on a mammogram. This makes it harder to diagnose. IBC has the highest possibility of metastasis and poor prognosis.
Paget Disease of the Nipple is a rare type of breast cancer involving the skin of the nipple. Paget disease starts in the breast ducts and spreads to the skin of the nipple and then to the areola, the dark circle around the nipple. The skin of the nipple and areola often looks crusted, scaly, and red. There may be blood or yellow fluid coming out of the nipple. It also might burn or itch.
Angiosarcoma is a rare cancer that starts in the cells that line blood vessels or lymph vessels. It’s sometimes a complication of previous radiation treatment to the breast. Angiosarcoma tend to grow and spread quickly, and treatment usually is the same as other sarcoma.
TNM staging is the most commonly used method of staging a tumor.
T refers to tumor (Tumor), tumor size and location, followed by T1 ~ T4;
N refers to regional lymph nodes, whether the lymph nodes around the tumor are involved or not, which is represented by N1~N2 in order.
M refers to Metastasis, whether the tumor has metastasized to other parts of the body. This is expressed in order of M0~M1.
According to the tumor TNM stage, the final specific stage of breast cancer can be obtained.
Invasive cancer is what we call real cancer because they can spread to other parts of the body. Infiltration indicates that the cancer cells have invaded and infiltrated deeper from the site of occurrence.
Note: Invasive carcinoma is usually represented by T in clinical stages, and T1, T2, T3, and T4 are subdivisions of degree of infiltration.
Differentiation is a grade of cancer, which is based on the degree of abnormality of the cells observed under the microscope and is usually divided into 3 levels: highly differentiated (low grade); moderately differentiated (middle grade), poorly differentiated (high grade). High-grade or poorly differentiated cancers tend to grow and spread faster.
If you have any doubt about the breast cancer pathology report, you can make an online appointment or contact us at 02-8221222 (Manila Office) or 0917-599-2277 (Cebu Office). Professional oncologists will help you out.
Tips from oncologist at St. Stamford Modern Cancer Hospital Guangzhou: The above is only a partial interpretation of the pathology report of breast cancer. Patients must find a professional oncologist for a comprehensive interpretation on a detailed pathology report, so that they can receive guidance and treatments timely to avoid irreversible consequences.