Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) is a type of breast cancer that originates in the milk ducts and spreads to other tissue. Cancers form when a mutation in DNA causes certain cells to grow out of control, sometimes forming a lump or a tumor. Some of these cancerous cells can break off and spread to other parts of the body where they will continue to grow. This process is known as metastasis. IDC is the most common breast cancer, and it is also the only type of breast cancer that can be found in men. Many of the risk factors for breast cancer are related to estrogen exposure, such as older age, having children later in life, having few or no children, taking estrogen-containing medications, early menarche (first period), and late menopause. Other risk factors include increased alcohol intake, obesity, and family and individual history of certain types of cancer.
Symptoms of IDC include swelling of the breast, skin irritation (thickening, redness, or scales), nipple or breast pain, and irregular nipple discharge. A biopsy or sample of cells from the affected area can be performed to confirm the presence of cancer. Additional tests should be run to determine the extent and location of disease, and whether the cancer has spread. Often the first place that IDC spreads is to lymph nodes located above the breast and around the armpits. The stage of cancer will be determined based on the tumor size and whether it has spread to nearby lymph nodes or to other organs by metastasis.
Treatment options for IDC include surgery to remove the tumor, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone (endocrine) therapy, and other targeted therapies. If you have been diagnosed with IDC, talk to your doctor about the best treatment options. In addition, a genetic counselor can help discuss inheritance and risks to other family members. Support groups are a good source of information and can connect you with others who have been affected by breast cancer.