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Aggressive Types of Breast Cancer

Updated on May 25, 2012
Breast cancer awareness ribbon
Breast cancer awareness ribbon | Source

When we hear the diagnosis of breast cancer our first thought is often "am I going to die?" Thankfully, breast cancer is one of the most survivable of all cancers; the average five years survival rate is 88% for women and 79% for men. Yes, men also get breast cancer but in very small numbers compared to women. The number of expected breast cancer diagnosis rate in men in the United States for 2012 was 200 while it was 22,700 for women. However, some breast cancers are more survivable than others. Those considered to be aggressive have lower survival rates.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer just after I turned 40 I was told it was a very quick moving and aggressive type of breast cancer. The fact that the lump grew very quickly and showed up after my breast reduction surgery (the surgeon had not found it during the operation). I had left it longer than I normally would have because I assumed that it was just scar tissue. I had a lumpectomy, had some lymph nodes removed, had the various test such as a bone scan then started on a course of chemotherapy and radiation treatments; it lasted all of nine months. My type of cancer could not be treated by taking a drug such as Tamoxofin. It's been 15 years now, I am happy to consider myself a survivor.

The Five Most Aggressive Breast Cancers

The five most aggressive breast cancers are Triple Negative Breast Cancer, Inflammatory Breast Cancer, HER2- Positive, Paget's Disease of the Breast and Metaplastic Breast Cancer. They are much rarer than other types of cancer and each has different survival rates after five year.

Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

Triple Negative Breast Cancer or TNBC is a cancer which tests negative for estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors and HER2. It does not respond well to hormone treatments such as Tamoxifen or Herceptin. TNBC makes up from 10-20% of breast cancer diagnoses and is more likely than other types to spread. The treatment involves surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. The average age of diagnosis for TNBC is between 40 and 50 and African-American are more likely to suffer from it than any other race. The five year survival rate for TNBC is 77%.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Inflammatory Breast Cancer is a very rare and very aggressive type of cancer. The symptoms are often redness, swelling tenderness and warmth in the breast. Inflammatory Breast cancer often blocks lymph vessels and the cells usually line the milk ducts. Treatment for this breast cancer usually involves chemotherapy and radiation, and sometimes surgery if necessary. This type of cancer makes up 1-5% of all breast cancer diagnoses. The average age of diagnosis is 57 and like others African-American women make up the largest percentage of those diagnosed. The five year survival rate for Inflammatory Breast Cancer is 34%; ongoing clinical trials are trying to improve this statistic.

HER 2-positive Breast Cancer

HER2 -positive breast cancer is less responsive to hormone therapy. The most often prescribed treatment is Herceptin; chemotherapy is also often prescribed for this type of breast cancer. HER2 -positive breast cancer make up 18-20% of all diagnosed breast cancers. The medium age of diagnosis is 54 and the five year survival rate is 30%.

Paget's Disease of the Breast

Paget's Disease of the Breast affects the nipple of the breast, around the areola; often one or two tumors in the breast are also present. Symptoms of Paget's Disease of the Breast often include itching, flaking, a flattened nipple and yellowish discharge. Treatment usually involves the removal of the nipple. This cancer makes up 1-4% of all breast cancers and the average age of diagnosis is 57. The five year survival rate is 83%.

Metaplastic Breast Cancer

Metaplastic breast cancer is one of the rarest of all cancers; it makes up 0.02% of breast cancers diagnosed. It can spread to the lymph notes and therefore throughout the entire body. Treatment involves removal of the tumor, chemotherapy and radiation. The average age of diagnosis is 59 and the average five year survival rate is 40%.

Breast Cancer in Men

Breast cancer in men is diagnosed mostly in those over 60 years of age. The most common type of breast cancer found in men is Paget's Disease of the Breast and Inflammatory Breast Cancer. The treatment for men is the same as it is for post-menopausal women and can include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and hormone drug therapy.

Breast cancer hope bands
Breast cancer hope bands | Source

Life Goes on After Cancer

While getting a diagnosis of breast cancer might seem like the end of the world, it is not. Most women survive the disease and due to research more are surviving every day. As a survivor myself I know that is true and that there is life after cancer.

You can get past breast cancer. If you know of someone who is going through breast cancer treatments, give them your support and your time; they will appreciate it. And if you are going through it yourself, stay strong; you will get through this.


Submit a Comment

  • Just Ask Susan profile image

    Susan Zutautas 

    6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Mine too was aggressive both times. That is all that I was told at the time and I never learned about all the different types until years later.

    Very useful and informative hub!

  • Janis Goad profile image

    Janis Goad 

    6 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your personal story. I think it's important to hear from people who had it and survived. It is hard to stay hopeful with a diagnosis of any form of cancer, but attitude is everything.

    I didn't know about these five different types. I learned something from your hub.

  • Judi Bee profile image

    Judi Brown 

    6 years ago from UK

    Thanks for an upbeat and positive hub about breast cancer, informative without being terrifying.

    Voted up etc.

  • GoodLady profile image

    Penelope Hart 

    6 years ago from Rome, Italy

    Sensible, fact filled and helpful. I didn't have breast cancer I had endometrium (aggressive) a few years ago and am surviving just fine too. Hi!

    Your hub provides the facts. So important. It beats the fear any day. The fear comes of course, but it needs to be worked through with the facts. The facts are strengthening. Thank you for your Hub.

    I think it is excellent.



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