FAQ 17

How is Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC ) detected?

Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC) can be difficult to detect by mammography. ILC cancer cells grow more diffusely in the breast and often do not cause the changes seen with other types of breast cancer, such as a mass (lump), distortion or calcifications, which are used to detect cancer on mammograms. This means that invasive lobular cancer is more likely to be larger when detected and more likely to present with symptoms after an apparently normal screening mammogram. To reduce the risk of missing the subtle early changes of breast cancer, every mammogram is double read by experts and any woman whose mammograms are not normal or clearly benign is called back for further assessment.

At the assessment clinic, she will have more tests. These may include a clinical examination, more mammograms at different angles or with magnification, or examination using ultrasound. A needle test (core biopsy) to sample the breast tissue may be carried out if these further tests confirm an abnormality. Core biopsy is done with a local anaesthetic. All core samples are analysed by the breast pathology team to find the cause of the abnormality. If the biopsy shows invasive lobular cancer the breast team may suggest a breast MRI scan to more accurately assess the size of the cancer.

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