Breast cancer is a malignant disease that affects both men and women. However, it is estimated that 1 in every 8 women in the U.S. will suffer from breast cancer over a lifetime, making it the second most common type of cancer in this population. Men, conversely, have a 1 in 1,000 probability of being diagnosed with breast cancer. Any cancer occurs when there is an uncontrollable growth of cells.

In the case of breast cancer, such growth occurs in the breast cells due to an inherited or acquired DNA mutation. The breast is composed by glands that produce milk called lobules, tiny tubes that transport milk from the lobules to the nipple known as ducts, as well as stroma, which includes both fatty and connective tissue and surrounds the ducts and lobules, blood vessels, and lymphatic vessels. Cancer can occur in any part of the breast.

Nipple Retraction as a Symptom of Breast Cancer

Nipple retraction, which can also be called nipple inversion, invaginated nipple, or inverted nipple, is the name given when the point of the breast turns inward or become inverted. The condition can be the result of inflammation or scarring of the tissue behind the nipple, and caused by numerous conditions, not just cancer. But breast cancer can have many other symptoms, including a new breast lump or mass, swelling of all or part of a breast, skin irritation or dimpling, breast or nipple pain, a nipple discharge other than breast milk, and redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin, as well as nipple retraction.

In the case of breast cancer, nipple retraction occurs when the tumor attacks the duct behind the nipple, pulling it in. It should be reported to a physician, particularly when accompanied by other symptoms. However, the physician cannot diagnose breast cancer just by observing a nipple. When a patient shows nipple retraction, physicians often ask about the patient’s medical history, perform a full physical examination, and request exams like imaging X-rays, a mammogram, a breast ultrasound, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the breast, or a biopsy. Other tests that may also be needed include a nipple discharge exam, a ductal lavage and nipple aspiration, and a fine needle aspiration (FNA).

Management of Ductal Carcinoma

Two types of breast cancer affect the ducts, known as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and invasive ductal carcinoma. Both types are similar, but ductal carcinoma in situ is non-invasive and confined to its original site, while invasive ductal carcinoma is not limited to the ducts. “In most cases, a woman with DCIS can choose between breast-conserving surgery (BCS) and simple mastectomy. BCS is usually followed by radiation therapy. Lymph node removal (most often a sentinel lymph node biopsy) is not always needed. It may be done if the doctor thinks the area of DCIS may also contain invasive cancer. The risk of an area of DCIS containing invasive cancer goes up with tumor size and nuclear grade,” according to the American Cancer Society.

In the case of invasive ductal carcinoma, patients may need surgery to remove the breast tumor and observe if the disease has reached the lymph nodes. There are two main types of surgery for breast cancer, mastectomy being the most aggressive and breast-conserving surgery the least. Radiation therapy is also an option, since the high-energy rays can reach the breast, chest area, under the arm, and/or the collarbone area, which can be particularly helpful in patients whose cancer has spread. This type of treatment may be administered as external beam radiation, internal partial-breast irradiation, or external partial-breast irradiation.

Note: Breast Cancer News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.