Invasive Ductal Breast Cancer (IDC)


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Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), also called infiltrating ductal carcinoma, is the most common type of breast cancer, constituting about 80% of all diagnosed breast cancers.

The breast is an organ designed to manufacture and deliver milk to the infant. The majority of the breast is composed of fatty tissue. Milk glands lie within this fatty tissue and are connected to the nipple via a series of ducts.

Invasive means that the cancer which had originally started in the ducts of the breast (Ductal Cancer in Situ or DCIS) has broken through the membrane of the ducts and invaded the surrounding tissue.

Once the cancer cells have broken through the duct membrane, they can invade the lymphatic and blood systems and spread further to other parts of the body. This is known as metastasis.

Age - Invasive ductal breast cancer usually occurs in women who are over the age of 55 years. It is basically a postmenopausal condition. It can also occur in older men - that is, men who have crossed 50 years of age. IDC is the commonest type of breast cancer in men.

Symptoms of Ductal Breast Cancer

Symptoms of Ductal Breast Cancer

Symptoms of Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC):

  • No Symptoms: In early cases, invasive ductal breast cancer (IDC) can cause no symptoms of breast cancer at all. A lump may be seen only at a routine mammography or on physical examination which is later diagnosed as IDC.

  • Breast Lump: In most cases of invasive ductal cancer, the first symptom is usually a lump in the breast. This lump may be anywhere in the breast but is more likely to be near the nipple or areola. Like most breast cancers, these are also non-tender, firm to hard lumps. In later cases, the lump may be fixed to the skin or underlying tissues and may feel irregular and lumpy.

  • Nipple Discharge: Any nipple discharge other than milk should always be evaluated for breast cancer, especially ductal cancer. Some women may have a nipple discharge which may be yellowish, greenish or reddish. Reddish implies the presence of blood while greenish or yellowish may indicate the presence of infection.

  • Dimpling of the Skin of the Breast: In some cases of invasive ductal breast cancer, especially in later cases, there may be dimpling or irregularities of the skin. This is called 'peau de orange', meaning 'like the skin of an orange'. This change occurs when strands of tumor cells fix the skin at some places and pull it down towards the tumor causing the skin to dimple at those places.

    Dimpling of skin in Breast Cancer (IDC)
    Dimpling of Skin in IDC

  • Change in Size or Shape of the Breast or nipple: If the tumor is deep inside the breast, there may not be a specific palpable lump. But the increasing size of the tumor may cause the breast to enlarge in size. Presence of the tumor on one side of the breast can also cause a change in the shape of the breast. The nipple may be pushed or pulled to one side by the lump.

  • Pain: Pain is very uncommon. But in the presence of infection of the lump or when the lump presses on sensitive tissues like the nerves, there may be some amount of pain. Some women may experience a heaviness or a dull ache in the breast rather than actual pain. A new pain in the breast that does not decrease and remains for a long time should always be investigated for IDC.

  • Inversion of the Nipple : The nipple may be inverted or turn inwards when the tumor cells stretch between the nipple and the tumor deeper inside the breast and pull at the nipple.

  • Lump under the Armpit: When the cancer cells spread to the lymph nodes under the armpit, hard Lumps may be felt in this region.

  • Nipple Irritation, Itching: Redness, scaliness, itching or thickening of the nipple generally occurs when the invasive ductal cancer is very close to or just under the nipples.

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