Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Breast Cancer Types
Breast cancer is the abnormal growth of the cells that
line the ducts and lobes of the breast. When breast cancer has spread outside the ducts or lobes into normal breast tissue, it is said to be invasive.
The main types of invasive breast cancer are:
Some breast cancer is a mixture of both ductal and lobular carcinoma.
There are also some less common types of invasive breast cancer, such as inflammatory breast cancer and male breast cancer.
When abnormal cells in the lining of a duct or lobe of the breast haven't spread, they are said to be noninvasive, or "in situ" (say "in-SY-too"). The main types of noninvasive cancer are:
Some breast cancer cells have:
Some breast cancers need the hormones estrogen or progesterone (or both) to grow. These cancer cells have "receptors" on their surfaces. Receptors are like doorways to let hormones in. These types of cancer are called estrogen-receptor-positive (ER+) and progesterone-receptor-positive (PR+) breast cancer.
And some breast cancers also have a large amount of a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER-2 or HER-2/neu). These breast cancers tend to grow faster and spread more quickly than breast cancers without as much HER-2. So, HER-2 positive (HER-2+) breast cancers are usually treated with a targeted medicine (such as trastuzumab) and chemotherapy.
If the breast cancer cells don't have estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, or large amounts of HER-2 protein, they are said to be triple-negative. Triple-negative breast cancer is a less common type of breast cancer. It tends to grow faster and spread more quickly and is harder to treat than breast cancers that have hormone receptors. Medicines that target hormone receptors or HER-2 won't help with triple-negative cancer, but chemotherapy can help.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family MedicineE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerDouglas A. Stewart, MD - Medical Oncology
Current as ofNovember 20, 2015
Current as of:
November 20, 2015
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Douglas A. Stewart, MD - Medical Oncology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
I Want To...
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.