Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC)
According to the American Cancer Society, over 180,000
American women find out each year that they have some form of invasive breast cancer. Invasive lobular carcinoma is
the second most common type of invasive breast cancer type (next to invasive ductal carcinoma) and accounts for
about 10% of this total. Let’s talk further about the symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up to this
Invasive lobular carcinoma is a type of cancer which originates in the milk
producing lobules of the breast.
These lobules are directly connected to the milk ducts which carry the milk out to
the nipples of the breast.
This type of breast cancer is referred to as invasive since the cancer which
begins in the lobules eventually spreads to other parts of the breast. It can also affect the lymph
This type of breast cancer affects primarily women who are over the age of
55. It may be
difficult to detect through physical symptoms. In addition this type of breast
cancer is more difficult to spot in a mammogram than the more common invasive ductal
carcinoma. This is because instead of forming a lump, the cancer cells tend to collect in the connective
tissue in a narrow line.
However it is important
to pay close attention to physical changes if/when they occur. This can include:
Skin irritation or dimpling in the
Swelling in all or part of the
Persistent pain in the
Persistent pain in and around the
Redness or thickening of the tissue
around the nipple
Unusual discharge from the
A lump in the underarm
In order to properly diagnose this type of cancer, a number of tests and
procedures may be employed. The first part of the testing would entail a physical examination of the breasts and lymph
nodes to look for unusual signs, lumps swelling or other potential warning signs.
Then a mammogram would be used to view detailed x-ray images of the
breast. However as indicated earlier, the use of this test may not be as accurate for the detection
and assessment of invasive lobular carcinoma. Any tumors identified may
appear smaller than they actually are.
So other tests such as Ultrasound and Breast MRI are used as
If an area of concern is identified, a biopsy is generally performed to
further assess the presence and extent of cancer. A needle biopsy in the least
invasive type of procedure so Doctors try to use this method as much as possible. If this cannot occur then a
surgical incision is made to gain access to the affected area.
In order to treat the disease most effectively, surgical procedures are used
to remove as much of the cancerous tissue as possible. This can be done through a
lumpectomy which removes a portion of the breast or a mastectomy which removes the entire
addition a portion of the lymph nodes may be removed depending on the extent and severity of cancer in that
In many cases the surgical procedure is followed by either chemotherapy or
radiation therapy in order to try to make certain that all cancer cells have either been removed or
addition if it has been found that the cancer has spread beyond the breasts then other kinds of chemotherapy,
radiation therapy or other procedures may be employed to treat any cancer which may have spread to other areas
of the body.
In many cases the surgical procedures followed by chemo or radiation can be
very effective at eradicating the cancer.
However this is greatly affected by the stage in which the cancer is
identified. The earlier it can be detected the better. Therefore the course of
treatment and its effectiveness will be greatly influenced by this.