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Invasive lobular breast cancer

About 1 in 10 breast cancers diagnosed (10%) are invasive lobular carcinoma. This means that the cancer started in the cells that line the lobules of the breast and has spread beyond the lobules into the surrounding breast tissue. Invasive lobular cancer is most common in women between 45 and 55 years old.

If your doctor has told you that you have lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) you do not have invasive lobular breast cancer. We have information about LCIS in this section.

Symptoms and diagnosis

Invasive lobular breast cancer does not always show up as a firm lump. And it does not always show up on breast X-rays (mammograms). So it can be difficult to diagnose. You may have a thickened area of breast tissue instead of a definite lump.

Treatment for invasive lobular breast cancer

Usually you will have surgery, possibly followed by radiotherapy, chemotherapy, biological therapy, or a combination of treatments. You may also have hormone therapy after surgery if your cancer cells have oestrogen receptors.

 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the About breast cancer section.

 

 

What invasive lobular breast cancer is

Around 1 in 10 breast cancers diagnosed (10%) are invasive lobular carcinoma. This means that the cancer started in the cells that line the lobules of the breast and has spread into the surrounding breast tissue. Invasive lobular cancer can develop in women of any age. But it is most common in women between 45 and 55 years old.

Remember that if your doctor has told you that you have lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), you do not have invasive lobular breast cancer. These are two different things. You can find information about LCIS in this section.

The outlook for invasive lobular breast cancer is much the same as for ductal breast cancer. If breast cancer is diagnosed in both breasts at the same time it is more likely to be lobular breast cancer than ductal breast cancer. And if you have invasive lobular breast cancer diagnosed in one breast, there is a slightly higher risk of getting it in the other breast in the future.

 

Symptoms and diagnosis

Invasive lobular breast cancer does not always form a firm lump. And it may not always show up on mammograms. So it can be difficult to diagnose. Because of this, invasive lobular cancers may be larger than other types of breast cancer when they are diagnosed. You may have a thickened area of breast tissue instead of a definite lump. You can find information about tests for lobular breast cancer in the diagnosing breast cancer pages.

 

Treatment for invasive lobular breast cancer

The treatment for invasive lobular breast cancer is the same as for the more common type of breast cancer (ductal breast cancer). Usually, you have surgery to remove the area of cancer and a surrounding area of healthy tissue (wide local excision). 

Invasive lobular breast cancer is sometimes found in more than one area within the breast. In that case, it may not be possible to remove just the area of the cancer. Your doctor may then recommend removal of the whole breast (a mastectomy). If you choose to, you can have a new breast made (breast reconstruction) at the same time as mastectomy or some time afterwards. 

After the surgery you may be offered radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or biological therapy or a combination of treatments. You may also have hormone therapy if your breast cancer cells are oestrogen receptor positive. Look at the types of breast cancer treatment page to find out about how the various treatments are used.

 

More information about invasive lobular breast cancer

We have detailed information about breast cancer treatments in this section.

You can phone the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040. The lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. They will be happy to answer any questions that you have.

Our breast cancer organisations page gives details of other people who can provide information about breast  cancer and its treatment. Some organisations can put you in touch with a cancer support group. 

If you want to find people to share experiences with online, you could use Cancer Chat, our online forum.

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Updated: 30 July 2014