What is invasive ductal carcinoma?

Invasive ductal carcinoma is the most common type of breast cancer, making up almost 80% of all breast cancer diagnoses. This type of cancer starts growing in the milk ducts in your breasts. It then spreads to the fatty tissues in your breasts and can also spread to other parts of your body.

Invasive ductal carcinoma is a type of breast cancer that can affect men, too.

Common related conditions
Breast Cancer Male Breast Cancer

Causes of invasive ductal carcinoma

Unfortunately, doctors have yet to figure out the exact cause of invasive ductal carcinoma. When you get this type of cancer, it means something damaged your cells' DNA and caused it to change. The result is that the cells grow abnormally and uncontrollably in your breast tissue.

Doctors are still looking for genetic and environmental factors that damage the DNA. They have determined that caffeine, deodorant, microwaves and cell phone use do not lead to this type of cancer.

Risk factors for invasive ductal carcinoma

Age and gender are the two greatest risk factors for developing invasive ductal carcinoma. Women over the age of 55 are more likely to develop invasive breast cancer than any other group of people.

Some other risk factors that doctors have identified are:

  • Weight — weight gain and obesity in adulthood play a role due to changes in hormones.
  • Breast tissue — women with less fatty tissue in their breasts have an increased risk of the disease.
  • Family history — those with family members who also had breast cancer are more likely to develop the disease.
  • No children — women who have never had children are at increased risk. At the same time, women who breastfeed reduce their risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Genetic mutations — mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are the most common causes of invasive breast cancer.

Symptoms of invasive ductal carcinoma

Invasive breast cancer doesn't always have obvious signs or symptoms that affect your daily life. This is why regular screenings are essential to detect this type of cancer in its early stages.

Common symptoms of invasive ductal carcinoma include:

  • Lump in the breast
  • Swelling in one breast
  • Discharge from the breast
  • Red skin or rash on the breast
  • Pain or changes in the appearance of the nipple

Diagnosis of invasive ductal carcinoma

Diagnosing invasive breast cancer usually involves many steps. The first is a physical exam and medical history. Doctors can often feel the lump in your breast. They'll check your armpits and surrounding areas for changes, too.

A mammogram is the next step. This is an x-ray of your breast tissue. It allows doctors to see any tumors or lumps of abnormal tissue. This is the same screening done in healthy women to detect breast cancer early. Ultrasounds and MRIs provide additional images if needed. The biopsy comes last. Doctors remove the lump during surgery. Then, they test the tumor to diagnose cancer.

Treatments for invasive ductal carcinoma

The treatment for invasive ductal carcinoma depends on the stage of the cancer and your overall health. The stage describes how much the cancer has grown and changed the cells.

Your individual treatment plan may include a combination of the following treatments:

  • Gene therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Removing the lump
  • Removing the breast
  • Removing lymph nodes

Your doctor might also recommend reconstructive surgery as part of your treatment. This restores the appearance of your breast(s) and minimizes scarring.

Recovery from invasive ductal carcinoma

Recovery from invasive breast cancer depends on the type of treatment you have. Lump removals are often done on an outpatient basis, meaning you can go home a few hours after the procedure.

Other surgeries are more invasive and require you to spend some recovery time in the hospital before you go home. In order to heal faster, doctors and nurses will have you up and moving soon after surgery.

Recovering from a lump removal takes only a few days. It can take weeks to fully recover from larger surgeries. Doctors may prescribe medicine to treat pain and any side effects from your breast cancer treatment.

Find a breast cancer specialist nearby

Mercy Health locations that can treat you