Is Malignant Breast Cancer Dangerous?

Find Out About Tumor Types and Their Impact on Your Body

Breast X-Ray
Breast X-Ray. Justin Sullivan / Staff / Getty Images

A tumor is a scary word, but it actually just means a mass of abnormal tissues. There are two main kinds of tumors: benign, which means the tumor is non-cancerous, and malignant, tumors that are cancerous. 

Benign Tumors

Since benign tumors are harmless, doctors may opt to leave the lump alone rather than remove it. If you are experiencing discomfort, irritation or pressure, let your doctor know so that she can plan to remove it for you and improve your comfort.

 

Malignant Breast Cancer

If a tumor is found to be malignant, you have breast cancer or another form of cancer. Malignant tumors are aggressive and will spread to other surrounding tissues. When the tumor is identified, your doctor may recommend a biopsy to identify how advanced the cancer is and how severe it is.

Tumor Levels

Malignant tumors are evaluated and classified according to a designated system based on its severity. Your doctor will evaluate how similar the cells are to healthy cells and the shape and size of the cells. He will also look for indications of how quickly the cells split and multiply. With these factors in mind, the tumor is assigned a grade:

  1. Low Grade: Well-differentiated
  2. Intermediate Grade: Moderately differentiated 
  3. High Grade: poorly differentiated

In this system, 1 is the least severe of cases and most closely resemble normal tissue. High-grade tumors look abnormal under the microscope and will likely be more aggressive and severe.

 

These grades are completely different than cancer stages and should not be confused. The grade simply helps determine your unique treatment plan. Malignant breast cancer tumors at every grade are successfully treated each day. 

Malignant Tumors and Other Cancers

While a malignant tumor may be first identified and diagnosed as breast cancer, it can develop into something else.

If a malignant tumor sheds cells into your bloodstream or lymph system, those cells will carry cancer to other parts of the body, which may include:

  • bone
  • skin
  • lungs
  • liver
  • brain
  • lymph nodes

Treating Malignant Tumors

Once a malignant tumor has been diagnosed in the breast, your doctor will recommend a treatment plan tailored to your unique situation. This plan could include surgery, hormone therapy, radiation and chemotherapy:

  • Surgery: The doctor will remove cancerous tissue from the affected area. How effective surgical procedures are is dependent on the type of cancer and its severity. 
  • Hormone Therapy: Medications may be prescribed to help lower hormone levels.
  • Radiation: High-energy rays are used to kill cancerous cells in a specific area. It is typically administered externally, however, there are internal methods as well. 
  • Chemotherapy: This therapy includes the use of a chemo agent to kill cancerous cells. You may receive chemotherapy through an infusion directly into your blood stream. The drugs travel through your body and attack the affected area.  

    Malignant tumors are serious growths that require serious medical intervention. Regular screenings and annual visits to your doctor will not prevent cancer from developing, but will identify cancer early on. Catching the cancer in the early stages is essential for treating it effectively. 

    Source:

    "What is Breast Cancer?" American Cancer Society, 2016. 

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