Cancer occurs when changes, or mutations, take place in genes that regulate cell growth. The mutations let the cells divide and multiply in an uncontrolled way. Breast cancer occurs when cells within the breast experience mutations that then invade other healthy breast tissue. 


Each type of breast cancer can cause a variety of symptoms. Symptoms for the most common breast cancers include: 

  • A new breast lump or thickening tissue that feels different than surrounding tissue
  • Breast pain
  • Red, pitted skin over the entire breast
  • Swelling in all or part of your breast
  • Nipple discharge 
  • Bloody nipple discharge
  • Peeling, scaling, or flaking of skin on your nipple or breast
  • A sudden, unexplained change in the shape or size of your breast
  • A lump or swelling under your arm 

Having one or more of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have breast cancer. Nipple discharge, for example, can also be caused by an infection. Schedule an appointment with one of our providers for a complete evaluation if you experience any of these symptoms. 

Types of Breast Cancer

There are several types of breast cancer, and they are broken into two main categories: invasive and noninvasive, or in situ. While invasive cancer has spread from the breast ducts or glands to other parts of the breast, noninvasive cancer has not spread from the original tissues. 

Some of the most common types of breast cancer include: 

  • Ductal carcinoma in situ. This is a noninvasive condition. The cancer cells are confined to the ducts in your breast and haven’t invaded the surrounding breast tissue.
  • Lobular carcinoma in situ. This cancer grows in the milk-producing glands of your breast. Like Ductal carcinoma in situ, the cancer cells haven’t invaded the surrounding tissue.
  • Invasive ductal carcinoma. This is the most common type of breast cancer. It begins in your breast’s milk ducts and then invades nearby tissue in the breast. Once breast cancer has spread to the tissue outside your milk ducts, it can begin to spread to other nearby organs and tissue.
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma. This cancer first develops in your breast’s lobules and has invaded nearby tissue. 

The type of cancer you are diagnosed with determines your treatment options, as well as your likely long-term outcome. 

Preventative Measures

While most risk factors for breast cancer cannot be controlled, there are some lifestyle changes that you can make now to decrease your risk for breast cancer. These changes include: 

  • Limiting alcohol intake 
  • Avoid smoking
  • Maintain an active lifestyle 
  • Limiting dose and duration of hormone therapy

The key to the successful treatment of breast cancer is early detection. This is why getting your regular mammogram is so important. Adult women 40 and older are encouraged to participate in annual mammograms. At Santiam Hospital & Clinics, we are excited to announce that we now offer 3D mammography. These have been proven to find more cancers than traditional 2D mammograms and also reduce the number of false positives. 

In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we encourage you to schedule your mammogram appointment today. Early detection is key to successful treatment.