Lobular carcinoma starts in the sacs that produce milk, the breast lobules. Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) is the second most common form of breast cancer after invasive ductal carcinoma. It has spread from the breast lobules to other parts of the breast, lymph nodes, or other parts of the body.
Unlike other forms of breast cancer, lobular carcinoma usually appears in both breasts in multiple tumors (multicentric). Non-invasive lobular carcinoma, or lobular carcinoma in situ, is a rare, precancerous condition.
At Dignity Health Southern California hospitals, doctors and staff deliver advanced cancer care technology with a healing touch — from screening and prevention to personalized treatment options. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with lobular carcinoma in Southern California, Find a Doctor at one of our hospitals:
Symptoms of Invasive Lobular Carcinoma
The main sign of invasive lobular carcinoma is hardening or thickening of the breast. A well-defined mass or lump isn’t common. Dignity Health Southern California hospitals offer a variety of recommended cancer screenings for women, which may detect cancer before any obvious signs.
Other symptoms of lobular carcinoma include:
- Skin changes on the breast or nipple
- Swelling of part or all of the breast
- Change in size, shape, or appearance of the breast or nipple
- Inverted nipple or nipple discharge that isn’t breast milk
Non-invasive lobular carcinoma typically doesn’t have any symptoms and does not show up on a mammogram.
Diagnosing Lobular Carcinoma
If your doctor suspects cancer, a biopsy will confirm the diagnosis and may determine its type, grade, HER2 status, and hormone receptor status. However, sometimes this information is not available until the tumor has been surgically removed.
In most cases, doctors find non-invasive lobular carcinoma during a biopsy for another breast condition.
Lobular Breast Cancer Treatment at Dignity Health Southern California
Invasive lobular carcinoma is usually treated with surgery, either lumpectomy or full mastectomy. The breast cancer stage will determine the extent of surgery.
Other treatments include:
- Chemotherapy to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing
- Hormone therapy for hormone receptor-positive tumors, which grow in response to estrogen or progesterone
- Targeted therapy for HER2-positive tumors and hormone receptor-positive tumors
Standard treatments are not used for non-invasive lobular carcinoma because it is precancerous. Watchful waiting and hormone therapy may be used instead to prevent it from progressing. In some cases, your doctor may recommend a prophylactic mastectomy.
Dignity Health provides treatment and screening for lobular carcinoma in Southern California.