Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and more

Infiltrating ductal carcinoma (ICD), also known as infiltrating carcinoma or invasive breast cancer , is the most common type of breast cancer . It begins to develop in the milk ducts of the breast and can exit the ducts and invade the surrounding tissues .

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The term "invasive" means that the cancer has spread outside the ducts. But that does not mean that the IDC has spread beyond the chest, or even that it has invaded the lymph nodes or blood vessels. Although stage 0 breast cancer ( carcinoma in situ ) is not invasive, all stage 1 to 4 breast cancers are considered "invasive. "


According to the American Cancer Society, IDC accounts for about 8 out of 10 of all invasive breast cancers. This type of breast cancer can occur at any age, but many people are over 55 at the time of diagnosis.

It affects both women and men, and accounts for approximately 80% of male breast cancers .

Signs and symptoms

A monthly breast self-exam (BSE), in addition to any recommended routine exams, is the best way to monitor the health of your breasts. Knowing what is normal for you and what changes are felt in your breasts is essential to recognize the first signs of breast cancer.

Signs of breast cancer (in general) that can be detected during a breast self-exam may include:

In particular, invasive ductal carcinoma can manifest itself in a number of ways. The presentations stand out:

  • A hard, bumpy, bulging lump under the areola or around the central breast area.
  • A lump that appears to be attached to the surrounding breast tissue and may appear mobile (it is, but it will move with the tissue that has penetrated).

Most of the time, chest pain is due to a benign breast condition, but unlike what many women (and men) hear, pain can sometimes be a symptom of breast cancer. Therefore, it is recommended that you inform your doctor about your chest pain to determine the cause.


The underlying reasons for IDC are not fully known. Researchers believe that certain hormonal, environmental and lifestyle factors, such as smoking, poor diet and previous chest radiation, increase the risk of breast cancer. However, many people develop breast cancer without these known risk factors.

In some cases, IDC is tracked for specific attributes, including:

  • Breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) or breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2) are two inherited tumor suppressor genes .
  • ErbB2 gene. Between 20% and 25% of breast cancers are HER2-positive, which means that the gene is amplified (that is, there are too many copies of the gene, so too much protein is produced) that receptor 2 produces. human epidermal growth factor ( HER2 ). .., a protein receptor that promotes cancer cell growth. It is not inherited.


If you find a breast lump during a breast self-exam or clinical exam , it is best to examine it carefully. Fortunately, 80% of all breast tumors are not cancer, but they are associated with benign (not malignant) problems that can mimic disease . For the other 20%, if breast cancer is found early, their chances of survival are usually very high.

Some of the tests that are used to accurately diagnose invasive ductal carcinoma include:

  • Mammography : Mammography uses X-rays to create images of the breast. Like other types of X-rays, mammograms show shades of black, gray, and white based on the density of the breast tissue. Normal adipose tissue appears dark gray. Tissues affected by breast cancer or benign breast diseases are denser and appear light gray and white. Therefore, the CDI may appear as a white mass on the mammogram. However, tumor cells sometimes do not stay within the limits of the mass and penetrate the nearest breast problem, looking fuzzy on images.
  • High resolution ultrasound: Breast ultrasound can help detect benign breast diseases and breast cancer. An ultrasound is usually done after a mammogram shows something abnormal or unusual. Ultrasound is helpful because the images can be viewed from any direction. IDC looks like a fuzzy, pointed mass (with spikes on the surface).
  • Breast MRI : Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses magnetic images and radio waves to produce images of breast tissue. Your healthcare provider may order an MRI to learn more about a breast lump or abnormality. Breast MRI can be very helpful, especially in young women with dense breast tissue , which can reduce the accuracy of mammography.
  • Breast biopsy : Your healthcare provider will order a biopsy if anything suspicious is found on a mammogram or other scan. It consists of obtaining a small part of the growth to examine it under a microscope. A biopsy is important to confirm whether a suspicious area is malignant or benign.

Discussion guide with a breast cancer doctor

Get our printable guide to your next doctor's appointment to help you ask the right questions.

Watch out

The goal of any breast cancer treatment is to kill cancer cells and prevent recurrence. Treatment of IDC may include:

  • Surgery : A lumpectomy involves the removal of the tumor and a small area of healthy tissue around it. In a mastectomy , the entire breast is removed.
  • Chemotherapy : Chemotherapy drugs may be used before surgery to shrink the tumor and make the cancer resectable. It can also be given after surgery to prevent cancer cells from coming back.
  • Radiation : Radiation therapy is given after surgery and chemotherapy to keep cancer cells from coming back.
  • Hormone therapy : Certain medications may be prescribed if the cancer cells have specific hormone receptors.
  • Targeted therapy : HER2 cancer cells are treated with targeted therapy drugs such as Herceptin (trastuzumab).

The goal of treatment is to give you the best possible outcome, and your healthcare provider may decide to use a combination of treatments to achieve this.

Considering clinical trials

Clinical trials use new, not yet approved drugs to see if they work and how safe they are. This can be a way to test treatments that are not available to everyone, and your healthcare provider can be a great source of information on what research might work in your particular situation.

Follow up

After completing your primary breast cancer treatment, you will continue to see your oncologist for a checkup for several years. If the tumor is sensitive to estrogen or progesterone, hormone therapy may be required for up to 10 years .

You will still have mammograms of any breast tissue you still have, as well as bone density scans if you are menopausal to make sure you do not have osteoporosis.


Health professionals use the term " prognosis" to talk about your future prospects and survival. Several factors affect the prognosis of a patient with IDC, including:

  • Is IDC a new diagnosis or a relapse?
  • The stage of the cancer and whether it is confined to the breast or has spread to lymph nodes, other tissues, or organs.
  • Hormone receptor status and HER2 status
  • Responses to treatment
  • Your age, general health, and menopausal status (for women)

Get the word of drug information

If you have been diagnosed with IDC, the support you may need will vary. Whether it's a close friend, support group or therapist, or family members offering practical help like housework, babysitting, or saying goodbye, know how to communicate and get care, the love and understanding you need. it is also an important part of your healing process. For your part, do your best to take care of yourself: eat healthy foods, keep moving, pamper yourself, and let go of the things you can't control to the best of your ability.

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