Breast Cancer Classification

Breast cancer classification divides breast cancer into categories according to different schemes, each based on different criteria and serving a different purpose. The major categories are the histolopathological type, the grade of the tumor, the stage of the tumor, and the expression of proteins and genes. As knowledge of cancer cell biology develops these classifications are updated.

The purpose of classification is to select the best treatment. The effectiveness of a specific treatment is demonstrated for a specific breast cancer (usually by randomized, controlled trials). That treatment may not be effective in a different breast cancer. Some breast cancers are aggressive and life-threatening, and must be treated with aggressive treatments that have major adverse effects. Other breast cancers are less aggressive and can be treated with less aggressive treatments, such as lumpectomy.

Treatment algorithms rely on breast cancer classification to define specific subgroups that are each treated according to the best evidence available. Classification aspects must be carefully tested and validated, such that confounding effects are minimized, making them either true prognostic factors, which estimate disease outcomes such as disease-free or overall survival in the absence of therapy, or true predictive factors, which estimate the likelihood of response or lack of response to a specific treatment.

Classification of breast cancer is usually, but not always, primarily based on the histological appearance of tissue in the tumor. A variant from this approach, defined on the basis of physical exam findings, is that inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), a form of ductal carcinoma or malignant cancer in the ducts, is distinguished from other carcinomas by the inflamed appearance of the affected breast, which correlates with increased cancer aggressivity.

Read more about Breast Cancer ClassificationHistopathology, Grade, Stage, Receptor Status

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