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Invasive Ductal Carcinoma

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Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) is the most common type of breast cancer and accounts for 80 percent of all breast cancer cases in women and 90 percent in men. Men have milk ducts too, but they are less developed than women’s ducts.

Invasive ductal carcinoma is more common after the age of 55.

IDC is the next stage on from ductal carcinoma in situ. It means that cancer has spread from the milk ducts and is now in the surrounding breast tissue.


Symptoms of IDC are:

• Swollen breasts or swelling in one part of the breast

• Breast pain and/or irritation

• Nipple pain

• Inward turning nipples

• Redness and scaliness of the nipple or breast skin

• Lumps under the arms

• Discharge from the nipples

IDC is usually found on a mammogram but can also be detected via MRI scan and ultrasound. MRI uses magnetic waves and radio waves to build up a picture on the computer and ultrasound uses sound waves.

If any of your imaging diagnostic tests show something abnormal you will be offered a biopsy. This is when a sample of breast tissue is removed so that a pathologist can look at it under a microscope to see if it is cancerous.

You don’t necessarily have to have surgery in order for the doctor to get a tissue sample. There are less invasive techniques for obtaining tissue, such as:

Fine Needle Aspiration

This is when a tiny and very fine needle is inserted into the breast and cells are removed for examination.

Core Needle Biopsy

A small cut is made in the breast and a larger needle is inserted to remove cylinder-shaped samples of tissue. This type of biopsy leaves a small scar that is usually not visible after a few weeks of healing.

If the doctor cannot get a sample from either of these methods or if the test results aren’t certain, you will be offered a surgical biopsy.


The main treatment for IDC is surgery to remove the cancer and to see if it has spread to other areas. This is called a lumpectomy. In some cases a partial mastectomy may be done (partial removal of the breast) or total mastectomy (total removal of the breast).

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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