What is the treatment for invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC)?

Penn Medicine
There are a number of possible treatments for invasive (infiltrating) lobular carcinoma (ILC). Treatments for stages I, II and III and operable stage III may include:
  • Breast-conserving surgery to remove only the cancer and some surrounding breast tissue, followed by lymph node dissection and radiation therapy
  • Modified radical mastectomy with or without breast reconstruction surgery
  • Sentinel lymph node biopsy followed by surgery
  • Adjuvant therapy (treatment given after surgery to increase the chances of a cure) that may include: radiation therapy to the lymph nodes near the breast and to the chest wall after a modified radical mastectomy, systemic chemotherapy with or without hormone therapy, hormone therapy
  • Clinical trials
Treatment of stage IIIB and inoperable stage IIIC breast cancer may include:
  • Systemic chemotherapy
  • Systemic chemotherapy followed by surgery (breast-conserving surgery or total mastectomy), with lymph node dissection followed by radiation therapy
  • Additional systemic therapy (chemotherapy, hormone therapy or both)
  • Clinical trials
Treatment of stage IV or metastatic breast cancer may include the following:
  • Hormone therapy and/or systemic chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy and/or surgery for relief of pain and other symptoms
  • Clinical trials
Johns Hopkins Medicine

Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC), which is also known as infiltrating lobular carcinoma, is the second most common form of invasive breast cancer diagnosed in the United States, representing 10-15 percent of diagnosed cases. Invasive breast cancers are aggressive and fast spreading. ILC follows a growth pattern looks like spreading tree branches.

Treatment for ILC typically includes either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, depending on the size of the tumor. A lumpectomy surgically removes the tumor from within the breast, and a mastectomy removes the entire breast including the areola and nipple.

If you have a diagnosis of ILC, it is important to choose your surgeon carefully. Any successful breast cancer surgery includes removing not only the cancerous tissue itself, but a good amount of healthy tissue surrounding the cancer. The branch-like growth pattern of ILC makes this difficult. To make sure your surgical procedure removes all of your cancer, your surgeon must remove the tissue all around the tumor, including any growth that may not be evident on imaging. Sometimes it is necessary to have additional surgery to take out more affected tissue.

Your doctor may also recommend any of the following additional treatments:

Chemotherapy - These are drugs your doctor administers either before or after surgery to help treat your cancer.

Radiation - Radiation uses high-energy rays (such as X-rays) to kill cancer cells or shrink tumors. Most commonly, doctors use radiation therapy to kill any cancer cells that remain in the breast, chest wall or underarm area after surgery.

Hormonal therapy - Receptors for the hormones estrogen and progesterone can affect breast cancer cell growth. Hormonal therapy helps block the ability of estrogen from reaching a breast cancer cell. These drugs help reduce the risk of breast cancer recurring or possibly continuing to grow.

Biologic targeted therapy - Biologic targeted therapy is a category of drugs that may be able to change the behavior of the breast cancer cell to help stem the spread of your cancer.

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Breast Cancer Treatment

After a breast cancer diagnosis, there are many decisions to make. A multidisciplinary team of doctors and specialists can help get a treatment plan started and you can choose a treatment facility. In the past, breast cancer treat...

ment involved a radical mastectomy, but today procedures are less invasive. Treatment will depend on the stage of breast cancer. It may include surgery, such as lumpectomy, radiation or chemotherapy to shrink and kill cancer cells. Learn more about breast cancer treatment options with expert advice from Sharecare.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.