Location, Location, Location

In real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. But with cancer, it’s more about cell type, cell type, cell type. Take for example, “breast cancer.” The breast is not just made up of “breast cells.” There is actually no such thing. But there are skin cells that make up the outer covering of the breast, and in the skin are cells that produce oil to lubricate the skin, cells that form the tiny hairs, cells that create pigment to give the skin color, and then of course there are skin cells. This is just the skin. Beneath this are fat cells, cells that make up blood vessels, and cells that produce milk after pregnancy. Then there are cells that form the tubes (or ducts) to carry the milk to the nipple, at the appropriate time. There are other cells as well, but I’ll stop here; you get the point. Cancer always originates from a single cell that divides uncontrollably. So which one of the many cell types results in “breast cancer?” 80% of the time, it is one of the cells that form the tubes carrying milk to the nipple (ductal). 20% of the time, it is one of the milk-producing cells (lobular). They are both called “breast cancer” IN GENERAL, but if someone’s savvy, they’ll call it “ductal breast cancer” or “lobular breast cancer” accordingly. So what do you call breast cancer that spreads (metastasizes) to the lung or bone? “Breast cancer, metastatic to lung (or bone).” Even though it is in another organ, it is still breast cancer. It did not become a different cancer, like “lung cancer” or “bone cancer.”

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