Of all the types of breast cancer, lobular carcinoma in situ is not a true cancer. Rather it is described as an area (or groups) of abnormal cellular growth which increases the risk of a person developing full blown invasive cancer later on in life. These abnormal cells are growing in the lobules which are the milk producing glands connected to the milk ducts in the breast. Let’s discuss more on this type of breast cancer and learn what should be known about this condition.
Again the important thing to note is that as much as it is referred to as a type of breast cancer, it is more of a precursor to breast cancer. Since these areas are not made up of cancer cells per se, the description is more appropriate to call it a lobular neoplasia rather than a lobular carcinoma. A neoplasia is a collection of abnormal cells which may eventually turn cancerous. And the condition is referred to as in situ because the abnormal growth tends to stay inside of the lobules and does not spread to other areas. People who are affected with this condition do show a higher than average risk of eventually developing breast cancer.
LCIS is very rare in men. It tends to affect women who are between the ages of 40 and 50 and who have not gone through menopause. Less than 10% of women who have already gone through menopause tend to develop this disease.
This type of breast cancer is considered rare but we really don’t know how extensive it is because the condition is very difficult to diagnose. It does exhibit physical signs and does not even normally show up on a mammogram. It only tends to be discovered as part of a biopsy for another reason or condition.
As indicated earlier, LCIS is not considered a true cancer but rather a precancerous condition which may never develop into cancer. However people with this condition do tend to show a higher risk for developing breast cancer later in life than others. It has been estimated that the lifetime risk is 30 to 40% for those who have LCIS versus 12.5% for women who have never experienced this condition before. And the risk is not just over a few years but rather over 15, 20 years or even more.
The treatment for lobule carcinoma in situ does not involve surgery or other cancer related treatments. The patient is watched carefully on a regular to test for the presence of breast cancer. The patient may also be prescribed medications such as tamoxifen or Evista which have been found to lower the risk of LCIS patients developing breast cancer.
In extreme cases some women elect to have both breasts removed in order to avoid the risk of ever developing some form of breast cancer. This is an extreme measure but is sometimes taken by people with a strong genetic predisposition to the disease. Otherwise this condition is something to watch but nothing of any great concern.