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Breast Cancer Health Center

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Lobular Carcinoma (Invasive and In Situ)

How is lobular carcinoma in situ treated?

The majority of women with lobular carcinoma in situ will not need immediate treatment with surgery or medicines. Instead, your doctor will probably recommend keeping a close eye on your condition. That will mean regular breast self-exams, office visits, and routine mammograms.

Under certain circumstances, your doctor may discuss the use of medications such as tamoxifen, raloxifene (Evista), exemestane (Aromasin), or anastrozole (Arimidex). These drugs are often used for women with a family history of breast cancer who have an increased risk for the disease. The drugs may reduce the likelihood that you will develop invasive breast cancer.

Some women opt to undergo preventive surgery. That kind of surgery is called a prophylactic mastectomy. The procedure removes one or both breasts. Doing so significantly reduces the risk of breast cancer in the future.

What is invasive lobular carcinoma?

Invasive lobular carcinoma is the second most common form of invasive breast cancer. It accounts for about 10% of invasive breast cancers. The condition typically begins in one of the breast lobules. It then spreads to other parts of the breast. For about one in three women with invasive lobular carcinoma, it is present in both breasts. It can also spread to other areas in the body.

How is invasive lobular carcinoma diagnosed?

If you have invasive lobular carcinoma, you might not be able to feel a distinct lump. Instead you may feel a thickened area or a hardening in part of your breast. This often occurs in the area above your nipple moving in the direction of your armpit.

If your tumor is large, it may cause the skin of your breast or nipple to become dimpled over the area of cancer.

Often, invasive lobular carcinoma cannot be detected by a mammogram. If you have a suspicious area, your doctor should order a biopsy to analyze cells from the thickened area of your breast. Most biopsies use a needle to extract a sample of cells from the breast. In some instances, though, larger samples or the entire tumor will be removed for analysis.

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