Malignant Breast Cancer Treatments

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 not malignant; and cancerous, or malignant. 

Benign and Malignant Tumors

Doctors may opt to leave a benign tumor alone rather than remove it. If you are experiencing discomfort, irritation, or pressure, talk with your doctor, who may refer you to a surgeon to remove it and improve your comfort.

If a tumor is found to be malignant, you have breast cancer or another form of cancer. Malignant tumors can be aggressive and may spread to other surrounding tissues.

A biopsy may be done on a suspicious lump, which can identify whether it is a tumor, as well as whether it is benign or malignant.

Tumor Levels

Malignant tumors are evaluated and classified according to a designated system based on severity. Your doctor will evaluate how similar the cells are to healthy cells and the shape and size of the cells. He or she 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, grade 1 is the least severe and most closely resembles 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. Malignant breast cancer tumors at every grade are successfully treated each day.

Malignant Tumors and Other Cancers

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

Treatment

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: The drug tamoxifen is commonly used to block hormones from binding to cancer cells.
  • 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 bloodstream. The drugs travel through your body and attack the affected area.

A Word From Verywell

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

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Cancer Society. Breast biopsy. Updated October 3, 2019.

  2. American Cancer Society. Breast cancer grades. Updated September 20, 2019.

  3. American Cancer Society. Treating breast cancer.

Additional Reading