Lobular Carcinoma in Situ (LCIS)

What is Lobular Carcinoma in Situ?

One red flag that could signal the development of breast cancer is Lobular Carcinoma in Situ (LCIS).

LCIS is not a cancer, rather the condition creates irregular lobule cells””or cells in the glands that create breast milk. However, even though these irregular cells do not spread, it is important for women with LCIS to watch out for another condition: invasive breast cancer. LCIS is mainly seen in women who are still menstruating and can be caused by genetic mutations in cells.

What are the Symptoms of Lobular Carcinoma in Situ?

Women with LCIS often don’t have any discernible signs of the condition””even when breasts are x-rayed. LCIS is usually identified when there is another reason for a breast biopsy, such as a suspicious nodule or a mass on a mammogram film.

Lack of microcalcification (typical indicator of the presence of breast cancer cells) leads LCIS to often go undiagnosed.

Lobular Carcinoma in Situ Causes

The causes of LCIS are not known. It is a relatively rare condition, typically causes no symptoms and is rarely detected on other tests, making it difficult to study.

However, researchers have identified some risk factors for the condition. Women who are thought to be at high risk of developing breast cancer are more likely to develop LCIS. For example, LCIS is more common in women with a family history of breast cancer, or women who have undergone previous breast cancer testing procedures, such as breast biopsies, mammograms, or annual clinical breast exams. Indeed, LCIS is usually discovered by accident while performing biopsies for another reason.

Women with LCIS also tend to have had fewer full-term pregnancies, and were older at the age of their first full-term pregnancy.

Potential genetic factors that may increase the risk of LCIS have not yet been studied.

How is Lobular Carcinoma in Situ Treated?

There are usually no treatments for LCIS. However, doctors do recommend that women with the condition be more proactive about their self-exams, regular mammograms, regular doctor appointments, and so on.

If a woman is at increased risk for tumors in general or has a family history of breast cancer, then some medications””like raloxifene””can be used to lower the risk. If a woman has an extremely high risk of cancer developing, she may want to undergo a preventative mastectomy.

Medications like asonastrozole, exemestane, raloxifene or ortamoxifen can help prevent the formation of LCIS and are sometimes prescribed to women who are at risk.

Lobular Carcinoma in Situ Prevention

Measures to prevent LCIS have not yet been identified.

Although LCIS is not considered to be a form of cancer, its association with breast cancer had led some scientists to investigate whether the preventive measures for breast cancer could apply to LCIS too. This research area is not well developed and firm conclusions have not yet been drawn, however, some research indicates that there is no difference in the odds of developing LCIS due to oral contraceptive use, hormone replacement therapy, a history of smoking, or alcohol consumption. More research needs to be conducted in order to confirm these findings.

It is not clear whether drugs normally prescribed to reduce the risk of breast cancer, such as tamoxifen, would also be effective in preventing LCIS.

Researchers are investigating ways to detect LCIS through mammograms, which should help them gain a stronger understanding of the disease, and potentially develop preventive recommendations. Your doctor will be able to advise you on potential options if you have any concerns about developing LCIS.

Last Reviewed:
October 06, 2016
Last Updated:
March 12, 2018