Skip to content

Breast Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Ductal Carcinoma (Invasive and In Situ)

How is ductal carcinoma in situ treated? continued...

You and your doctors may decide that a mastectomy to remove the breast is the best course of treatment if you have any of the following:

  • A strong family history of breast cancer
  • Very large areas of ductal carcinoma in situ
  • DCIS lesions located in multiple areas throughout your breast

Whatever form of treatment you have, you and your treatment team may also consider the use of tamoxifen. Tamoxifen is a breast cancer drug that reduces the risk of invasive breast cancer not only in the involved breast, but in the opposite breast, as well. This risk reduction continues even after the tamoxifen is discontinued.

What is invasive ductal carcinoma?

Invasive ductal carcinoma accounts for about 80% of all invasive breast cancers in women and 90% in males with breast cancer.

Like ductal carcinoma in situ, it begins in the milk ducts of the breast. But unlike DCIS, invasive ductal carcinoma is not contained. Instead, it grows through the duct walls and into the surrounding breast tissue. And it can metastasize. That means it can spread to other areas of your body.

How is invasive ductal carcinoma diagnosed?

Invasive ductal carcinoma may cause a hard, immovable lump with irregular edges to form in your breast. That lump can be felt during a breast examination. In some cases, the cancer causes the nipple to become inverted. A mammogram may show areas of calcification where calcium has collected in old cancer cells.

If your physical exam and mammogram indicate you may have invasive ductal carcinoma, your doctor may order a biopsy to obtain cells for analysis. The results of this test will help confirm your diagnosis. They will also help determine what treatment will be most effective for you.

Since invasive ductal carcinoma often spreads, your doctor should recommend additional tests to look for cancer cells in other areas of your body. These tests may include:

Axillary lymph node sampling (surgery to check the lymph nodes in the armpits for cancer) is always performed in the presence of invasive ductal carcinoma.

Using the results from these tests, your doctor will be able to determine the stage of your breast cancer. The stage will help guide your treatment.

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
Resolved To Quit Smoking
Woman getting mammogram
Screening Tests for Women
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
serious woman
what is your cancer risk
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow