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What is Lobular Carcinoma?

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  • Written By: L. Hepfer
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 September 2016
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Lobular carcinoma is a type of cancer that attacks the breast in the lobular area, or milk glands, of the breast. Lobular carcinoma is the second most common type of breast cancer. It makes up approximately 10% of all breast cancer cases. There are two different types of lobular carcinoma.

Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) begins in the milk glands of the breast and eventually spreads to the surrounding tissues. It does not normally show up on a mammogram, however, it seems to have a better prognosis than other invasive cancers of the breast. The tumor in the breast tends to grow in the last part of the lobule glands. The tumor may feel like a thickening in the upper outer portion of the breast and may be found when a woman is performing a self examination of the breast.

The skin may pucker over the area where the tumor is located. Invasive lobular carcinoma often tests positive for estrogen or progesterone receptors and usually responds well to hormonal treatments. If it is not caught in an early stage and treated, this type of cancer may eventually spread to the woman's ovaries and uterus.

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Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) is a form of pre-invasive breast cancer and is often considered to be a precancerous condition of the breast. Abnormal cells have been discovered, however, this particular diagnosis means it has been discovered before the breast has been invaded by the cancer cells. During this stage the cancer cells have the ability to multiply but have not moved beyond the lobule lining and into other areas of the breast.

A woman who is diagnosed with lobular carcinoma in situ is at a greater risk of developing an invasive breast cancer later on. Other risk factors for developing breast cancers include a woman's age, a family history of breast cancer, exposure to radiation and varying hormonal factors. Checking the breast regularly for any unusual lumps, nipple discharge or changes in the skin increases a woman's chance of detecting any type of cancer in its early stages.

Receiving treatment for lobular carcinoma in situ will depend on each individual situation. Sometimes a physician will not recommend treatment for this condition since it is a precancerous condition. Instead, the physician will advise the patient to be clinically screened on a regular basis so any early signs of invasive breast cancer can be caught and treated. The benefits of cancer treatment will be weighed and compared with the risk of the treatment involved. Treatment may be sought to increase a patient's chance of recovery and prolong her survival.

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