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Ductal Carcinoma

< Breast Cancer

Ductal Carcinoma

About Ductal Carcinoma

Ductal carcinoma is the most common type of breast cancer. It begins in the lining of the milk ducts (thin tubes that carry milk from the lobules of the breast to the nipple). Ductal carcinoma may be either ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) or invasive ductal carcinoma. DCIS is a noninvasive condition in which abnormal cells are found in the lining of a breast duct and have not spread outside the duct to other tissues in the breast. In some cases, DCIS may become invasive cancer. In invasive ductal carcinoma, cancer has spread outside the breast duct to surrounding normal tissue. It can also spread through the blood and lymph systems to other parts of the body.


DCIS doesn't typically have any signs or symptoms. However, DCIS can sometimes cause signs such as a breast lump or bloody nipple discharge. DCIS is usually found on a mammogram and appears as small clusters of calcifications that have irregular shapes and sizes.

Invasive ductal carcinoma may not cause any symptoms at first. Often, an abnormal area turns up on a screening mammogram. In some cases, the first sign of invasive ductal carcinoma is a new lump or mass in the breast that you or your doctor can feel. Any of the following unusual changes in the breast can be a first sign of breast cancer, including invasive ductal carcinoma:

  • A lump in the underarm area
  • A nipple discharge other than breast milk
  • Breast pain
  • Nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
  • Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
  • Skin irritation or dimpling
  • Swelling of all or part of the breast

Risk Factors

Some risk factors that may increase your odds of developing ductal carcinoma include:

  • Being age 55 or older
  • BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations
  • Combination estrogen-progestin after menopause
  • Family history
  • Pregnancy after age 35