Skip to Main Content

Treating Ductal Carcinoma

Ductal carcinoma is a type of breast cancer that starts in the milk ducts.

Invasive ductal carcinoma is the most common type of breast cancer. It has spread beyond the milk duct or even outside the breast. Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is its noninvasive form, meaning it has not spread anywhere else in the breast. Ductal carcinoma in situ is also referred to as stage 0 breast cancer.

At Dignity Health’s Bay Area hospitals, our goal is to provide state-of-the-art breast cancer care in a nurturing, calm environment. We offer a personalized, compassionate approach to screening and diagnosis of ductal carcinoma in the Bay Area. Find a Doctor using our online tool.

Risk Factors for Ductal Carcinoma Breast Cancer

Risk factors for ductal carcinoma include: 

  • Being a woman, although men occasionally develop breast cancer
  • Age, risk increases with age
  • Caucasian race
  • Diethylstilbestrol exposure
  • Defects in genes linked to breast cancer
  • Early menstruation (younger than 12)
  • Late menopause (older than 55)
  • Previous chest radiation therapy
  • Dense breast tissue
  • Family or personal history of breast cancer

Signs of Ductal Carcinoma

Most cases of noninvasive ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) do not have any signs or symptoms. Most are found during a routine mammogram. Invasive ductal carcinoma, may cause a lump, pain or swelling, skin or nipple changes, or nipple discharge.

Diagnosing Ductal Carcinoma at Dignity Health

During a mammogram, most cases of ductal carcinoma are spotted as microcalcifications, which look like clusters of tiny specks on the X-ray. A biopsy can determine if these areas are cancerous. If they are, the biopsy call also tell the grade, type, and hormone receptor status of the tumor. Your Bay Area doctor will use this information to guide your treatment plan.

Understanding Ductal Carcinoma Treatment

At Dignity Health, our oncologists often use surgery to treat ductal carcinoma, even if the cancer is only in the milk duct. Mastectomy is surgical removal of the entire breast. Lumpectomy removes the tumor and some surrounding tissue — saving the rest of the breast. After surgery, radiation therapy is used to kill any remaining cancer cells. Your breast cancer stage will help determine which surgical option is right for you.

Other treatment options include: 

  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormone therapy for hormone receptor-positive breast cancer that grows in response to progesterone, estrogen, or both
  • Targeted therapies, which use markers on cancer cells to identify and kill them

An annual cancer screening mammogram is the most effective prevention strategy for ductal carcinoma. Talk to your doctor about how annual exams can help prevent breast cancer or detect it earlier.