Lobular breast cancer causes malignancy in the milk-producing lobules. It is an invasive form of breast cancer. Although curable, early detection is crucial to prevent metastasis throughout the body.
Lobular breast cancer has few symptoms except a subtle change in breast shape and nipple. We suggest that women with a family history of cancer get screened when feeling abnormal thickening in their breasts.
What facts do patients need to know about lobular breast cancer?
Lobular breast cancer is among the second most common breast cancers detected worldwide.
It is a treatable condition, with nearly 20% of cases and offers the highest chance of curability, over 90%, among potential types of cancer. Women are more vulnerable to developing this condition than men.
What is lobular breast cancer?
The lobules comprise milk glands that secrete milk in lactating women.
Lobular breast cancer leads to cancerous growth in the breasts with the risk of spreading into the surrounding region.
It is also known as invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) and is the second most popular breast cancer after invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC).
Lobular breast cancer is more complicated as it lacks potential symptoms, unlike IDC. ILC forms a single-layered cancerous cell, unlike the characteristic lump found in IDC patients.
Women with a family history of carcinoma or those in their menopause phase are most prone to develop this condition.
We use biochemical diagnostics to confirm the epithelial cadherin/cadherin-1 gene, a unique protein found characteristically among individuals with lobular breast cancer.
What are the various stages of lobular breast cancer?
Lobular breast cancer progresses through four stages. Patients have the highest chance of cure if detected in the early stages of carcinoma.
- Stage 1 lobular breast cancer (tumour is around 2 cm and stays limited to the breast lobules).
- Stage 2 lobular breast cancer (tumour between 2-5 cm and ILC spreads around the nearby lymph nodes).
- Stage 3 lobular breast cancer (ILC spread around the chest cavity).
- Stage 4 lobular breast cancer (ILC shows metastasis, infecting healthy organs around the body).
What triggers lobular breast cancer?
Patients with invasive lobular carcinoma often report multiple factors, like being a cancer survivor or having a family history of cancer.
Here are potential reasons that can trigger lobular breast cancer:
- History of cancer in the family or former cancer survivor.
- Women and individuals taking hormone therapy in menopause.
- Presence of the epithelial cadherin/cadherin-1 gene.
Lobular breast cancer symptoms: How to recognise malignancy of the lobules?
Lobular breast cancer (ILC) differs from IDC in its state of cancerous cell growth. The former leads to a thickened breast, unlike the latter showing hard lumps.
Here are the symptoms that can help patients detect potential breast anomalies at an early stage:
- Thickened breast surface.
- Inversion of nipples (going inwards).
- Unexplained change of breast shape (distorted texture).
- Experiencing a feeling of swelling in the breast.
- No presence of lumps (seen in IDC).
- Frequent discomfort in the breast.
- Unexplained discharge from the breasts (a characteristic feature of advanced ILC).
Lobular breast cancer diagnosis: How to detect underlying ILC infection?
Individuals experiencing the mentioned symptoms should get a prompt screening for lobular breast cancer.
While it’s not accurate to diagnose based on manual inspection, here are the diagnostic methods that accurately detect underlying ILC infection:
- A mammogram (low-intensity X-ray) helps spot abnormal tissue thickening around the breast lobules.
- A USG provides overall clarity of the stage of underlying lobular breast cancer.
- An MRI gives detailed imagery for a thorough analysis of the state of the cancerous infection.
- We may also perform a biopsy (culture of suspected tissue) to confirm invasive lobular carcinoma in a patient.
Lobular breast cancer treatment: Methods to contain carcinoma
Lobular breast cancer is a curable condition if detected early with prompt treatment. We treat ILC based on the stage of lobular cancer. Patients may require the local method to destroy the prime cancerous cells.
Next, the systemic approach ensures complete sanitisation of the site of infection to prevent potential relapse in the future.
Here are the various methods used to treat ILC:
- Surgical intervention (lumpectomy/mastectomy) for removal of the tumour and cancerous tissues from the site of infection.
- Radiotherapy (irradiating site of infection with potent radiation to kill cancerous cells).
- Chemotherapy (anti-cancer drug targeted therapy to reduce the size of the cancerous tumour, later removed using surgery).
- Anti-hormone therapy provides respite to patients developing lobular breast cancer from hormonal intolerance.
How can patients prevent lobular breast cancer infection?
Lobular breast cancer is a non-communicable disease. Unless someone carries its dormant gene or undergoes mutation, a patient cannot develop invasive lobular carcinoma.
Here are some tips that will prevent the triggering of oncogenes:
- No smoking/alcohol
- Individuals with an ancestral instance of cancer must undergo screening.
- Do not misuse hormonal contraceptives.
- Consult with a physician when feeling ill about breasts.
- Cancer survivors should follow clinical guidelines strictly to prevent relapse.
Lobular breast cancer is a treatable condition. Most patients can get cured with prompt treatment during the first stage of ILC.
We request individuals not treat breast cancer as a taboo and visit either a gynaecologist or a breast cancer specialist to get proper diagnosis for underlying breast discomfort. Patients showing lobular breast cancer symptoms should get themselves screened by a qualified oncologist.
We recommend patients visit the CK Birla Hospital’s dedicated state-of-the-art breast centre in Gurugram, for advanced diagnosis, timely detection and customized treatment of breast related problems from experienced experts in the field. Walk in or book an appointment online to get treated for ILS under our top breast surgeon Dr. Vinay Gaikwad.