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Invasive Ductal Carcinoma - IDC


Updated June 30, 2014

Mature woman having a mammogram.
Vicky Kasala Productions/Photodisc/Getty Images

Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Basics:

IDC is a very common type of breast cancer. It starts developing in the milk ducts of your breast, but breaks out of the duct tubes, and invades, or infiltrates, surrounding tissues. Unlike ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which is a non-invasive cancer, IDC is not a well-contained cancer. IDC has the potential to invade your lymph and blood systems, spreading cancer cells to other parts of your body. If IDC spreads beyond its original site, we say it has metastasized.

IDC is Common:

IDC is the most common breast cancer diagnosis. Invasive ductal carcinoma accounts for about 8 out of 10 of all invasive breast cancers. This type of breast cancer can be found in men as well as women, and can occur at any age. Most patients with IDC are 55 or older at diagnosis.

Also Known As::

Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma, Infiltrating Carcinoma, Invasive breast cancer

Signs and Symptoms:

Invasive ductal carcinoma may feel like a hard, bumpy, irregularly-shaped lump beneath your areola or around the central area of your breast. An IDC lump will feel like it is attached to the breast tissue around it, so it may appear to be moveable. But it will be moving with the tissue that it has infiltrated. IDC can cause nipple retraction (nipple or areola pulling in). When doing your regular breast self-exam, if your nipple won't remain standing out from your areola, it's a good idea to go see your doctor for a clinical breast exam. On a mammogram, microcalcifications can appear near an IDC mass.

Tests Used for Diagnosis:

If you find a breast lump during your breast self-exam or a clinical exam, it's best to have it properly checked out. Remember that 80% of all breast lumps are not cancer. But if breast cancer is caught early, your chances of survival are very good. Some tests that are used to get a clear diagnosis for invasive ductal carcinoma are:

Stages of IDC:

Invasive ductal carcinoma can be diagnosed from stages 1 through 4. When an invasive breast cancer is caught and treated at an early stage, is it less likely to recur. Stage 1 IDC can be very successfully treated. Treatment of IDC will be tailored to the stage and other important characteristics of your tumor.

Your Prognosis For IDC:

Doctors use the term prognosis to talk about your future outlook for survival. Your prognosis will depend on many details about your tumor, and those details will help decide which treatments will be most effective for you. Details on your pathology report will include:

Treatments for Invasive Breast Cancer:

The goal of treating any breast cancer is to get rid of the cancer cells, and to prevent recurrence. Treatments may include:

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Follow-up After Primary Treatments:

After you've completed primary treatments for breast cancer, you will still see your oncologist for several years, for checkups. During the next 5 years, you may need too take hormone therapy if your tumor was estrogen or progesterone sensitive. You will continue to have mammograms on any breast tissue that you still have, as well as bone density scans if you are menopausal.


American Cancer Society. What is Breast Cancer? Invasive (or infiltrating) Ductal Carcinoma. Revised: 09/13/2007.

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