Invasive Lobular Carcinoma is the second most common type of breast cancer and accounts for 8% to 14% of breast cancers, after Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Carcinoma describes cancer occuring in the epithelial or lining layer of cells, almost all cases of breast cancer are carcinomas. The carcinoma can either be in the milk ducts or in the lobules and in some cases can be in both areas. ILC is characterised by small rounded cells that be difficult to find on mammograms as they do not readily form masses.
In this case, cancer has spread to surrounding tissues after being generated in the milk-producing lobules of the breast. It is invasive as it invades other parts of the breast. Over time, ILC can spread to the axillary lymph nodes, most commonly those situated under the armpits.
It is most common in women between the ages of 45 to 55, however, women outside of this range can develop ILC in some cases.
- an area of thickening or swelling
- a change in the nipple, for example if it turns inwards (inverted)
- a change in the skin, such as dimpling or thickening
IF YOU EXPERIENCE ANY OF THESE SYMPTOMS OR OTHERS ASSOCIATED WITH BREAST CANCER, SEE YOUR DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY.
Mammograms, which are x-rays of the breasts, are usually used to diagnose breast cancer. Additionally, you could have a biopsy or an MRI scan, this is dependent on your physician.
In some cases a lumpectomy may be carried out, which is where the tumour/mass is removed without deconstruction of the breast. In some cases, a mastectomy is advised, especially if the tumours are relatively large. Many women also have their lymph nodes removed as a precaution or if the cancer has spread.
After surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, biological therapy and hormone therapy may be used to treat cancer and can be a preventative measure. For some women, a hormone imbalance can cause uncontrolled growth of cancer cells so hormone therapy using oestrogen is used to reduce risk of recurrence.
Some breast cancers contain HER2/neu which is a growth-promoting protein that can cause the cancer to spread more quickly. Drugs that target the HER2 protein include Herceptin, a type of monoclonal antibody (antibody produced from a single clone of B cells), Tykerb, Perjeta and Kadcyla.
Testing of the sample can be done using immunohistochemistry (using antibodies that stick to the HER2 protein causing cells affected to change colour) and fluorescent in situ hybridisation (fluorescent DNA pieces stick to the HER2 gene, cells affected can be counted under a microscope).
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