When abnormal cells grow inside the lobules of the breast, but have not spread to nearby tissue or beyond, the condition is called lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS).
The term "in situ" means "in place." With LCIS, the abnormal cells are still "in place" inside the lobules.
Although the term LCIS includes the word “carcinoma,” LCIS is not invasive breast cancer.
Most cases of LCIS occur before menopause .
Image source: National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov)
Learn more about the anatomy of the breast.
LCIS increases the risk of invasive breast cancer.
Compared to women without LCIS, those with LCIS are 8-10 times more likely to develop invasive cancer in either breast .
Women with LCIS can develop invasive lobular cancer or invasive ductal cancer .
In the past, LCIS was not considered to be a precursor (a condition that can develop into) to breast cancer. However, recent evidence shows some LCIS may develop into invasive lobular cancer [172-175].
Learn about invasive lobular cancer and other types of tumors.
There are special breast cancer screening guidelines for women with LCIS.
A woman with LCIS should :
This medical care helps ensure that if cancer does develop, it's caught early. With standard treatment, breast cancers that are found early have a high chance of survival.
Learn more about breast cancer screening recommendations for women at higher risk.
Women with LCIS should strongly consider taking tamoxifen or raloxifene to try to lower their risk of breast cancer .
Both tamoxifen and raloxifene can lower the risk of :
Tamoxifen and raloxifene are the only two drugs FDA-approved for breast cancer risk reduction.
Tamoxifen and raloxifene only reduce the risk of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers. Neither drug reduces the risk of estrogen receptor-negative cancers .
Both pre- and postmenopausal women with LCIS can take tamoxifen. Raloxifene is only for use among postmenopausal women.
Although raloxifene is slightly less effective than tamoxifen in reducing the risk of breast cancer, it has fewer harmful health effects . This makes raloxifene a better choice for some women.
For example, tamoxifen increases the risk of cataracts and cancer of the uterus, but raloxifene does not. Tamoxifen also increases the risk of blood clots in the lungs and large veins more than raloxifene .
Learn more about tamoxifen and raloxifene.
For a summary of studies on tamoxifen and raloxifene, visit the Breast Cancer Research Studies section.
Aromatase inhibitors are hormone therapy drugs that are part of standard treatment for estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. These drugs are now being studied to see if they lower the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women at higher risk, including women with LCIS.
Findings from randomized controlled trials have shown the aromatase inhibitors exemestane and anastrozole may lower the risk of developing breast cancer in postmenopausal women at higher risk .
Although aromatase inhibitors are FDA-approved for use in breast cancer treatment, they do not have FDA-approval for use in the risk reduction setting.
Learn about emerging areas in risk reduction for women at higher risk of breast cancer.
Learn about exemestane and other aromatase inhibitors and breast cancer treatment.
A more drastic option for lowering the risk of breast cancer is to have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. This surgery removes both breasts to lower breast cancer risk as much as possible.
In the past, prophylactic bilateral mastectomy was considered for women with LCIS. However, risk reduction guidelines now state the use of a risk-lowering drug (tamoxifen or raloxifene) is preferred .
The use of tamoxifen or raloxifene is effective in greatly reducing risk (by about 85 percent) . So, most women with LCIS choose one of these drugs to lower risk (along with recommended breast cancer screening to find breast cancer early if it develops).
Talk with your health care provider about the risks and benefits of your risk-lowering options.
Learn more about options for women at higher risk.
Find questions about LCIS for your health care provider.
Learn more about talking with your health care provider.
SUSAN G. KOMEN® SUPPORT RESOURCES