Kelly Herdrich, Contributing writer
When a loved one receives a breast cancer diagnosis, being there for help and support is often the only, and best, thing you can do.
However, it can't hurt to know something about the condition and its treatment. Here are some common terms and medical procedures to familiarize yourself with for those important talks with the breast cancer patient in your life.
There are two main forms of breast cancer, each coming in two different forms, depending on their severity.
According to MayoClinic.com, breast cancer most commonly begins in the milk-transporting ducts. WebMD.com notes two particular types of ductal carcinoma: invasive ductal carcinoma, which begins in the ducts and spreads to the fatty tissue around the duct, and ductal carcinoma in situ, where the cancer is still contained in the duct.
This type of breast cancer begins in the lobules of the breast, where breast milk is made, according to WebMD.com. As with ductal carcinoma, lobular carcinoma comes in two forms: infiltrating lobular carcinoma, which has spread from the lobules, or lobular carcinoma in situ, which is still contained there.
MayoClinic.com notes four procedures that may be undergone in conjunction with identifying breast cancer.
A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast that commonly occurs in the early stages of diagnosis for breast cancer.
Though many assume that ultrasounds are used only for examining pregnancies, ultrasounds are also helpful for doctors to examine lumps in the breast.
If the doctor needs clearer pictures of the breast, he'll send the patient for an magnetic resonance iamge. This will paint a clearer picture than an ultrasound or a mammogram.
A biopsy is performed to get more conclusive evidence directly from the source -- the breast tissue itself. A sample is taken from the lump and then sent to the lab for more conclusive analysis.