If you have been diagnosed with lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) it means that doctors have detected some abnormal cells in your breast lobes. Despite the name carcinoma, it is not cancerous.
It means that you have an increased risk of having invasive breast cancer in the future. However, most women with LCIS don’t get cancer.
The condition doesn’t have any symptoms and is only usually discovered if you have a biopsy taken for another reason.
It is important to note that there is a type of breast cancer called invasive lobular breast cancer, which is different from lobular carcinoma in situ.
You don’t need to have any treatment for LCIS as the majority of women diagnosed don’t actually get cancer. They will never need treatment, according to Cancer Research UK.
Most doctors will recommend monitoring and breast examinations twice yearly or annually, just to make sure that no lumps are developing.
If you have a family history of breast cancer and you have a gene associated with the development of invasive breast cancer, you can opt to have your breasts removed (mastectomy). However, this is only done in exceptional circumstances and if your risk is very high.
There is currently no drug therapy to reduce the risk of developing invasive breast cancer. There are medical trials being carried out on the use of tamoxifen and a hormonal drug called anastrozole.
Tamoxifen has been shown in one research study to reduce the risk of breast cancer developing in women with lobular carcinoma in situ, but doctors don’t yet know if the benefits outweigh the risks of side effects.
Be Cautious of Mammograms before Age 30
If you are younger than 30 and have gene mutations of BRCA 1 and 2, and may be at a higher risk of developing invasive breast cancer, you should be cautious about the amount of breast radiation exposure you allow. This is because prior chest radiation has been linked to an increased risk of getting breast cancer.
A study published in the British Medical Journal found that for every 100 women with the gene mutation, nine will have developed cancer by age 40. If they had had a mammogram before age 30, this increased to 14.
The BMJ wrote:
"Exposure to radiation is an established risk factor for breast cancer in the general population ... A history of any exposure to diagnostic or screening radiation to the chest at ages 20 to 29 increased breast cancer risk by 43% and any exposure before the age of 20 increased breast cancer risk by 62%."
They say that this increased risk due to radiation was not seen for women aged between 30-39.
They suggested using MRI scans in the place of breast X-rays for women with the gene mutation. The BMJ also commented that a breast cancer charity was using misleading statistics to persuade women to have mammograms, and that charities should stop generating false hope and give women the facts instead.
Some countries tell women to avoid mammograms before the age of 30 but as study results are varied, this practice has not been implemented in all countries.
Lobular carcinoma in situ, Cancer Research UK. Web. 19 September 2012.
Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), Macmillan Cancer Support. Web. 19 September 2012.
Diagnostic chest radiation before age 30 may increase breast cancer risk in BRCA1/2 mutation carriers, Press Release, British Medical Journal. Web. 19 September 2012.
Joanna is a freelance health writer for The Mother magazine and Suite 101 with a column on infertility, http://infertility.suite101.com/ She has an A grade diploma in Neuro-psychological Immunology, which is the study of how the mind affects the immune system.
Reviewed September 20, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith