Invasive Lobular Carcinoma is a form of breast cancer that originates within the milk-producing glands (lobules) of the breast. Invasive cancer refers to cancer cells that break out of the lobules and can potentially begin to spread to other areas of the body.
Invasive lobular carcinoma makes up a small amount of all breast cancer types. Unlike many different types of cancer, invasive lobular carcinoma does not produce a visible and easily noticeable lump. Rather, it creates a change in the breast that causes it to feel fuller or thicker in one area of the breast, different than the surrounding breast tissue.
Invasive Lobular Carcinoma Symptoms
In its earlier stages, invasive lobular carcinoma can develop without signs or symptoms. As invasive lobular carcinoma grows, it may cause:
- A thickening area in the breast
- A swelling in the breast
- The texture or appearance of the skin of the breast can change, such as thickening or dimpling
- A recent or newly inverted nipple
Again, invasive lobular carcinoma is a form of breast cancer that’s less likely to cause a solid or noticeable lump in the breast.
When You Should See a Doctor
If you notice or feel you may be suffering from any signs or symptoms, then make an appointment with your doctor. After an examination, your doctor will then determine whether you need a breast ultrasound or mammogram.
Be sure to ask the doctor when you should begin screening tests for breast cancer prevention and detection. Through vigilance, you may be able to detect cancer in its earlier stages before you even see signs or symptoms.
Some routine tests that they may perform might include a standardized physical exam and a breast X-ray, aka a mammogram. Countless organizations conduct screenings differently and recommend timelines based on a variety of information. However, most organizations do suggest that women with an average risk of or susceptibility to breast cancer consider yearly mammograms in their early to mid-40s. Mammograms are especially important if you have a family history of breast cancer or other health risks that could potentially lead to breast cancer.
Unfortunately, it is unclear as to what causes invasive lobular carcinoma. What we do know, however, is how invasive lobular carcinoma forms. Doctors understand that cells in one or more of the milk-producing glands of the breast develop a kind of mutation in its DNA. These mutations eventually lead to the inability to control cell growth, resulting in dividing and rapidly growing cells. And then depending on how aggressive the tumor is, it can spread to other parts of the body.
The lobular carcinoma cells invade any of the surrounding breast tissue. The area being affected might have a different feel from the surrounding breast tissue — a thickening or fullness that’s unlike a regular cancer lump.
Some factors that may increase your risk of invasive lobular carcinoma include:
- Being female – Women are typically more likely to develop breast cancer than males. Though, men are not entirely in the clear either.
- Older age – The older you get, the higher the risk of breast cancer. Women with invasive lobular carcinoma are generally a few years older than women diagnosed with most other types of breast cancer.
- Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS). If you suffer from LCIS — abnormal cells confined within the breast lobules — you will, unfortunately. face a higher risk of developing invasive cancer in either breast. LCIS is not a form of cancer but is rather an indication that your risk of developing other types of breast cancer has increased.
- Postmenopausal hormone use – Use of the female hormones such as estrogen and progesterone during and after menopause has been connected with increases in the risk of invasive lobular carcinoma. What researchers have come to believe is that the hormones might stimulate tumor growth, making tumors more difficult to screen.
- Inherited genetic cancer syndromes – Women who inherit a rare condition called hereditary diffuse gastric cancer syndrome face an increased risk of both stomach (gastric) cancer and invasive lobular carcinoma. Women who inherit specific cancer genes may have a higher risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers.
Preparing for your Appointment
You should always take precautionary steps for a potential cancer diagnosis, especially if you have a family history of cancer. You can begin by calling your family doctor or any general practitioner. Your doctor may recommend a mammogram or a breast ultrasound in order to better evaluate the area of concern. If a biopsy confirms the presence of a tumor, then you will be referred to a doctor who specializes in breast cancer treatments (oncologist).
Sometimes appointments are briefer than we’d like, so be well prepared. You will want to follow some of these preparatory steps:
- Be mindful of any pre-appointment restrictions and find out if there’s anything you need to do in advance (i.e. Diet).
- Write down any symptoms you may have noticed. A lot of times we forget to name some that could be of great importance to the doctor.
- Jot down any personal information such as life changes, stress, or anything that may be of importance.
- List your medications. Be sure to make a full list of any medications, vitamins, or supplements you might be taking.
- See if you can bring someone with you. As the whole process can be overwhelming, bringing someone aware of your circumstances isn’t a bad idea. Plus, you might want some emotional support.
You can certainly take initiative and ask your doctor any questions you may have. In fact, your doctor will surely ask you a number of questions, as well. Be prepared to answer them as clearly and accurately as possible.
Tests and Diagnosis
Some of the tests that assist in detecting and diagnosing invasive lobular carcinoma are:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Removing a sample of tissue for testing
If your doctor concludes that you have an invasive lobular carcinoma, he or she will discuss any additional tests or treatments that are appropriate to your stage of cancer. Some breast cancer treatments may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or hormone therapy.
Be sure to take any precautions you can ahead of time. If you suspect that you may have an invasive lobular carcinoma, make an appointment and get an examination as soon as possible.