Invasive Lobular Carcinoma or ILC is form of breast cancer wherein there is an abnormal cellular growth in the lobules or the milk-producing glands at the end of breast ducts within the mammary gland. This type of cancer usually arises in the form of lobular carcinoma in situ which is non-cancerous but slowly becomes malignant over time and spreads to other parts of the breast.
It is the second most common form of breast cancer after invasive ductal carcinoma, which chiefly stems in the milk duct. Invasive Lobular Carcinoma is usually diagnosed in both breasts than other types of breast cancer and can also gradually spread to other areas of the body.
Although just like any other type of cancer, the exact cause of invasive lobular carcinoma is still undiscovered, yet most research and studies surface that it usually occurs when the cells in the milk-producing gland (lobule) of a breast develop mutations or changes in their genetic code that cause the cells to appear abnormal. These cells spread and divide rapidly without dying and accumulate to form tumorous structures. These tumors metastasize and may spread to nearby tissues, lymph nodes and other parts of the body.
Certain causative factors that increase the risk of invasive lobular carcinoma include:
Age: The risk of this type of breast cancer increases with old age.
Gender: Invasive lobular cancer is more common in women than men.
Medications: Use of combination estrogen-progestin hormone replacement therapy after menopause aggravates the chances of developing ILS in the later years.
Health Condition: Getting diagnosed with a non-cancerous condition like Lobular Carcinoma in situ makes one prone to ILS as well.
Hereditary Condition: A gastrointestinal disorder known as Hereditary diffuse gastric cancer syndrome, passed down from the parents increases the chances of ILS in the kids.
Although initial signs and symptoms are difficult to recognize, the common ones include:
- Thickening or hardening in the breast that feels different
- A lump under the arm
- Pain in the breast or nipple
- Inverted nipple
- Unusual nipple discharge as in the case of mastitis
- An area of swelling or fullness
- Changes in the texture of the skin on your breast or nipple, like dimpling or scaly area
Diagnosis And Treatment
On noticing any of the above-mentioned signs and symptoms, do consult a doctor right away to start the treatment at the earliest. The doctor usually does a thorough physical checkup by looking for any lumps or unusual hardening inside the breast or under the arm. The doctor then acknowledges the patient’s family history and past medical history to know about the exact causative factor and may perform some diagnostics including:
- Imaging techniques like Bone scan, Ultrasound, CT-scan, MRI-scan or PET-scan
Treatment options usually depends upon the extent of spreading of the cancerous cells and includes:
- Surgery (this includes Mastectomy, i.e., removal of all breast tissue with or without lymph nodes and Lumpectomy i.e., removal of only the tumour and some affected surrounding tissues)
- Radiation therapy
- Hormone therapy