In addition to more common forms of breast cancer, there are several rare forms of cancer that affect a small percentage of men and women diagnosed with breast cancer. Because they are uncommon, many physicians may not have familiarity with these rare types of breast cancers. Although the symptoms of rare breast cancer types may not lead to a diagnosis of breast cancer, we recommend men and women visit a breast specialist who is familiar with these infrequently occurring conditions.
Rare Breast Cancer Types
Angiosarcomas are rare tumors that mostly affect relatively younger women and account for less than 1 percent of all primary breast malignancies. Symptoms of angiosarcoma of the breast include thickening of the breast wall, rash-like symptoms and discoloration of skin tissue. Some research suggests that some angiosarcomas may be the result of radiation therapy used to treat previously diagnosed cancer. Treatments for angiosarcomas include surgery and chemotherapy.
More information about angiosarcomas of the breast, a rare breast cancer type, can be found by visiting our angiosarcomas page here.
Cystosarcoma Phyllodes are tumors that can be either cancerous or benign. This distinction is often difficult for physicians to make because they can feel during physical examination and appear on imaging exams to be a commonly occurring benign growth. Cystosarcoma Phyllodes tumors grow rapidly to a large size if they become cancerous, but these cancers rarely spread beyond the breast. Cystosarcoma Phyllodes is most frequently treated with surgery.
Enlarged Axillary Lymph Nodes
Lymph nodes produce lymph, a fluid composed of white blood cells, for the purpose of fighting infections detected in the body. Axillary lymph nodes are located within the armpit and can become swollen or enlarged when a threat to the body has been detected. Enlarged axillary lymph nodes can indicate breast cancer, although they may also be the result of another condition, such as a cold or injury.
More information about enlarged axillary lymph nodes, a rare breast cancer type, can be found by visiting our axillary lymph nodes page here.
Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Inflammatory breast cancer is a type of cancer that mimics infection of the breast, but does not respond to antibiotics. Inflammatory breast cancer is aggressive and can spread quickly through the lymphatic system. Although inflammatory breast cancer was once almost always fatal, medical advancements have resulted in the possibility of a much better prognosis. Inflammatory breast cancer is typically treated with chemotherapy followed by surgery and radiation therapy.
More information about inflammatory breast cance, a rare type of breast cancer, can be found by visiting our inflammatory breast cancer here.
Locally Advanced Breast Cancer
Locally advanced breast cancers are cancers that have spread beyond the breast to the chest wall, skin of the breast or nearby lymph nodes, but not to other internal organs. Locally advanced breast cancers are treated with a combination of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
More information about locally advanced breast cancer, a rare breast cancer type, can be found by visiting our locally advanced breast cancer page here.
Male Breast Cancer
Breast cancer can also be diagnosed in men. According to the American Cancer Society there will be roughly 2,360 new cases of invasive breast cancer in 2014. Male breast cancer is much more likely to affect men over the age of 60 and, as is the case in many instances of breast cancer in women, is often diagnosed after a breast lump has been detected. Male breast cancer is generally treated by removing the breast, although radiation therapy and chemotherapy may also be appropriate treatment options.
More information about male breast cancer, a rare breast cancer type, can be found by visiting our male breast cancer page here.
Medullary Breast Cancer
Medullary breast cancers present as tumors that are AQ~dense and well-defined from surrounding normal breast tissue. These cancers are most often seen in younger women and, although they appear aggressive under a microscope, generally have a better prognosis than similarly sized, high-grade ductal breast cancers. Treatments for medullary breast cancers may include a combination of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Metaplastic Breast Cancer
Metaplastic breast cancers are aggressive and capable of rapid reproduction. They are also likely to be triple-negative, in which case Metaplastic breast cancers will not respond to hormonal therapy. Because metaplastic breast cancers present characteristics that make them appear unlike most other breast cancers, they can be difficult to diagnose. A combination of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy is generally used to treat these cancers.
Women with Paget’s disease often experience scaly skin and persistent itching around their nipples. While many women often first seek help from a dermatologist for this problem, it is a breast cancer that affects the nipple ducts. Paget’s disease is often associated with additional tumors within the breast. Treating Paget’s disease usually requires surgically removing the nipple-areolar complex in combination with radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy depending on a range of personal factors.
More information about Paget’s disease of the breast, a rare breast cancer type, can be found by visiting our Paget’s disease page here.