Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC)

Breast cancer has fortunately received a good deal of attention in recent years and has encouraged women to seek diagnosis and treatment on a more regular basis.  This has helped to increase the prognosis for those who suffer from this disease.  Breast cancer is a difficult and complex disease and has many different types.  We will discuss one important type here which is called invasive ductal carcinoma or IDC.

Invasive ductal carcinoma is a type of cancer which originates in the milk ducts within the breast.  It is the most common type of breast cancer and accounts for about 80% of all cases. In this type of breast cancer, it is referred to as invasive since it originates in the milk ducts but then begins to spread other areas of the breast.  This occurs when the cancer breaks through the walls in the milk ducts and travels to other areas of the breast.  Eventually it can move into the lymph nodes and affect them as well.

Each year over 180,000 women in American are diagnosed with breast cancer and of this number a significant proportion find that they have invasive ductal carcinoma.

The vast majority of people affected by this disease are women and it tends to strike women who are 55 years of age or older.

There are generally few obvious signs of invasive ductal carcinoma.  In its early stages it does not exhibit any symptoms.  The problem is usually identified during a screening mammogram.

In general the first sign of this type of breast cancer is a new lump or mass in the breast. In addition the following changing in the breast can indicate something which should be looked into further:

  • Swelling in the breast (complete or partial)
  • Irritation of the skin or dimpling of the skin in the affected area
  • Breast pain
  • Pain in the nipples or a nipple which has turned inward
  • Redness or thickening of the nipple
  • Discharge from the nipple which is not breast milk
  • Evidence of a lump in the underarm

In order to properly diagnose invasive ductal carcinoma, a combination of procedures generally occurs.  The first stage is to perform a thorough examination of the breasts to feel for the presence of any lump.  It is also important to check the lymph nodes for unusual swelling or changes.

The next stage would be to have a mammography performed.  This is a test which uses x-rays to examine the breasts.  These tests are an important to screen potentially healthy women for signs of breast cancer.

One of the unique signs of this kind of breast cancer is that it shows finger like projections coming out from an anomaly in the breast.  These projections are indicative of a spreading of cancer into other parts of the breast.

Ultrasound tests of the breast may be used to augment the results of the mammography test. And a breast MRI can be of additional benefit in identifying areas of concern and how it may be affecting other parts of the breast.

If one or more of these tests indicate that cancer may be present, some type of biopsy of the affected tissue is generally warranted.  The biopsy can be minimal or more extensive.  Doctors try to employ a needle biopsy since it is minimally invasive.  A needle is inserted into the lump and cells are removed for further analysis.

If this cannot be done then a more extensive biopsy involving an incision must be performed.

In order to best treat this type of breast cancer, surgery to remove as much of the affected tissue will be performed.  This can be either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy depending on the size and extent of the cancer which is present.  This may be followed by chemotherapy or radiation therapy to ensure that as much of the cancer cells have been removed or killed.

If the disease has spread to the lymph nodes some types of surgery or treatment will apply to them as well.

In general the treatments have a high degree of success and prospect for long term results. However close follow up treatment is advisable to watch for any signs of occurrence in the affected areas or in any other part of the body.

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