Iowa Radiology Blog

What You Should Know About Invasive Lobular Carcinoma

Oct 25, 2018 8:51:00 AM

Posted by Diane Campbell

breast_cancer_daisy_ribbonWhat is invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC)?

Invasive lobular carcinoma is a type of breast cancer that begins in the lobules (milk-producing glands) of the breast and subsequently spreads to surrounding tissues. The second most common form of breast cancer in the U.S. (after invasive ductal carcinoma), ILC accounts for 10–15% of invasive breast cancers.[1]


What factors increase the risk of developing ILC?

The risk of developing invasive lobular carcinoma increases with age and is most common in women who are 60 or older. Post-menopausal hormone replacement therapy is thought to increase this risk.[2] Other factors that can make it more likely that ILC will develop include being previously diagnosed with lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) and certain genetic predispositions.[3]


What are the symptoms of ILC?

Lobular carcinoma does not typically form a distinct lump but rather tends to distribute itself throughout the breast tissue, making it more difficult to identify. Some patients may notice a hardening, thickening, or swelling of the breast or a change in the nipple or skin texture, but often, ILC presents no symptoms. It’s most often identified when a biopsy is performed to investigate a problem area or suspicious mammogram finding.[4]


What is the prognosis for ILC patients?

Individual prognosis depends on the specific characteristics of each patient’s cancer, including stage and size. However, recent data show an average 5-year survival rate among ILC patients of around 90%,[5] which represents a significant increase in recent decades: in 1997, the 5-year survival rate was estimated at 78%, and by 2004, it had risen to more than 85%. With continual progress in cancer detection and treatment, it’s likely that patients diagnosed today will see even higher rates of survival.[6]


What treatment is recommended for ILC?

ILC treatment depends on the size, extent, and other characteristics of an individual patient’s cancer. Breast-conserving surgery and radiation are commonly recommended for smaller, localized cases. Chemo and/or hormone therapy may be recommended if the tumor is large or has spread to other parts of the body, followed by either breast-conserving surgery or mastectomy. During surgery, lymph nodes are often removed to evaluate cancer spread. After surgery, additional chemotherapy drugs or hormone medications may be prescribed to eliminate any remaining cancer cells and prevent recurrence.[7]


The best way to detect breast cancer at its earliest stages, when it is most treatable, is by getting regular screening mammograms. Iowa Radiology uses the latest in 3-D mammogram technology for better cancer detection and fewer false alarms. For more information about breast cancer or 3-D mammograms, click either of the images below to access our free resources.


why have a 3d mammogram infographictypes of breast cancer ebook 


[1] "Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC)." The Johns Hopkins University, 26 Feb 2010. 21 Sept 2018.

[2] "Lobular Breast Cancer: What Are the Prognosis and Survival Rates?" Healthline Media, 10 Oct 2016. 21 Sept 2018.

[3] "Invasive Lobular Carcinoma—Symptoms and Causes." Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 14 July 2018. 21 Sept 2018.

[4] "ILC—Invasive Lobular Carcinoma.", 18 Feb 2016. 21 Sept 2018.

[5] Survival rates: "Breast Cancer Survival Rates for All Types of Breast Cancers." Moose & Doc Breast Cancer. Steven Halls, MD., 20 Sept 2018. 21 Sept 2018.

[6] "Lobular Breast Cancer: What Are the Prognosis and Survival Rates?" Healthline Media, 10 Oct 2016. 21 Sept 2018.

[7] "Treatment for ILC.", 18 Feb 2016. 21 Sept 2018.

Topics: cancer

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