Lobular Carcinoma- Causes and Risks

Breast cancer that originates in the lobule or the milk producing glands in the breasts is known as lobular carcinoma. Lobular carcinoma is one of the major forms of breast cancer.

It comprises nearly ten per cent of all breast cancer cases.  Lobular carcinoma is usually divided into two categories – invasive lobular carcinoma and non-invasive or in situ lobular carcinoma.

In situ lobular carcinoma
In situ lobular carcinoma is a pre-invasive form of breast cancer. This is an early stage of the disease. At this stage, the cancer cells in the lobules had not penetrated the membrane located at the base of the epithelial lining of the glands of the breast. If left untreated, cancer cells will gradually invade the surrounding breast tissues.

Invasive lobular carcinoma
As the name suggests, in invasive lobular carcinoma, the cancer cells invade breast tissues in the neighborhood of the lobule, where the cancer had started. If left untreated, cancer would spread to other organs of the body.

Symptoms of lobular carcinoma
Symptoms are usually absent at the early stage of lobular carcinoma, especially at the stage of in situ lobular carcinoma. As the disease progresses, an area of the breast might thicken. Unlike other forms of breast cancers, firm breast lump is usually absent in invasive lobular carcinoma. The breast skin might thicken.

Causes of lobular carcinoma
Older women have a greater risk of developing lobular carcinoma. The risk of breast cancer is greater in women undergoing hormonal therapy for treating menopausal symptoms. Women with a family history of breast cancer might develop this disease.

Alcohol increases lobular carcinoma risk
Drinking alcohol might not be safe for women. According to a study published in the latest edition of The Journal of the National Cancer Institute, alcohol intake increases the risk of lobular breast cancer. However, alcohol might not trigger development of invasive ductal carcinoma.

To study the effect of alcohol on different subtypes of breast cancers, researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center studied the health condition of teetotalers, former drinkers and women who currently drink. They found that women who took one or more drinks daily had a greater risk of developing lobular breast cancer than teetotalers.

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