Metaplastic is a general term used to describe cancer that begins in cells that have changed into another cell type. In some cases, metaplastic changes alone may mean there is an increased chance of cancer developing at the site.
Metaplastic carcinoma of the breast is a rare form of breast cancer. The tumor cells differ in type from that of the typical ductal or lobular breast cancers. The cells look like skin cells or cells that make bone.
Some women experience no early signs or symptoms, while others experience general symptoms of breast cancers, such as new breast lumps. General breast cancer symptoms include:
- A change in the size or shape of the breast
- A dimple or puckering in the skin of the breast
- A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area
- A nipple turned inward into the breast
- Dimples in the breast that look like the skin of an orange, called peau d’orange
- Fluid, other than breast milk, from the nipple, especially if it's bloody
- Scaly, red, or swollen skin on the breast, nipple, or areola (the dark area of skin around the nipple)
Since this type of breast cancer is extremely rare, data on risk factors is limited. Advanced age, family history and inherited changes in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes are common overarching causes for most types of breast cancer.