Lobular Carcinoma in Situ (LCIS)

Overview

What is lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)?

Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) is a rare condition that happens when you have abnormal cells in your lobules — the glands that produce breast milk. These abnormal cells are in situ, meaning they haven’t spread to surrounding breast tissue.

Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) isn’t breast cancer. But it’s a marker or indication that you have greater risk for developing breast cancer than someone who doesn’t have LCIS. If you have lobular carcinoma in situ, you are 10 times more likely to develop breast cancer than someone who doesn’t have LCIS.

How common is lobular carcinoma in situ?

Lobular carcinoma in situ is relatively rare, occurring in between four and 11 females per 100,000. It’s even less common in males. Approximately one male in 100,000 male develops breast cancer, and LCIS represents 2% of those breast cancer cases.

Who is affected by lobular carcinoma in situ?

LCIS is most often diagnosed in people ages 40 to 60.

Is lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) considered pre-cancerous or a pre-cancer?

Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) is not considered pre-cancerous or a pre-cancer. That’s because abnormal cells in your breast lobules rarely spread to surrounding breast tissue. Lobular carcinoma in situ does increase your risk of developing breast cancer.

What is the difference between ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)?

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is abnormal cells in your breast ducts. Like LCIS, it is a marker or indication for breast cancer. But DCIS is more likely than LCIS to spread from your breast ducts into surrounding breast tissue.

Symptoms and Causes

What are the symptoms of lobular carcinoma in situ?

Lobular carcinoma in situ doesn’t have symptoms. It can’t be felt during breast examinations or detected by mammograms. Instead, LCIS is often discovered during tests for other conditions. For example, your healthcare provider might find LCIS while performing a biopsy to evaluate a lump in your breast.

What causes lobular carcinoma in situ?

Lobular carcinoma in situ is abnormal cells in your breasts’ milk glands. Researchers don’t know what triggers the change from a normal cell to an abnormal cell.

Diagnosis and Tests

How do healthcare providers diagnose lobular carcinoma in situ?

Many times lobular carcinoma in situ is discovered during tests for other conditions. If providers find suspected abnormal cells while doing a biopsy, they will remove the abnormal cells for additional examination.

Management and Treatment

What is the treatment for lobular carcinoma in situ?

Your treatment depends on the kind of LCIS you have, your personal health and medical history and your personal choice. Treatments include:

  • Biopsy: Many times your abnormal cells were removed during the biopsy that showed you have lobular carcinoma in situ. People diagnosed with pleomorphic carcinoma in situ might have additional surgery to confirm all abnormal cells were removed during the initial biopsy. Pleomorphic carcinoma in situ refers to abnormal cells that more closely resemble cancer cells.
  • Surveillance: Your healthcare provider will monitor your condition, checking your breasts for changes every six months. You will have annual mammograms. Your provider might recommend magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
  • Chemoprevention: This is chemotherapy to decrease the risk your abnormal cells will spread to your breast tissue.
  • Risk reduction surgery: This is surgery removes both breasts. Risk reduction surgery is sometimes called prophylactic bilateral mastectomy.

Do I need to have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy if I have lobular carcinoma in situ?

You might consider prophylactic surgery if you have a family history of breast cancer, meaning your parents, siblings or children were diagnosed with cancer in both breasts or were diagnosed before age 50. You might also consider a prophylactic mastectomy if several family members have had breast or ovarian cancer.

Prevention

What can I do to prevent lobular carcinoma in situ?

Unfortunately, researchers don’t have enough information about LCIS to recommend ways to prevent it. But there are steps you can take to reduce their risk for developing breast cancer:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Exercise on a regular basis.
  • Ask your healthcare provider about any risk you might have if you take hormone replacement medication or birth control medication.
  • Find out if you have a family medical history that might increase your risk of developing breast cancer.
  • If you expect to have children, plan on breastfeeding them.

Outlook / Prognosis

What is the outlook or prognosis for lobular carcinoma in situ?

Unfortunately, being diagnosed with LCIS means you’ll live with an elevated risk for breast cancer for the rest of your life. That risk increases over time. For example, one study showed that 8% of women with LCIS developed invasive breast cancer five years after diagnosis. That percentage increased to 20% 15 years after diagnosis.

There are treatment options that might reduce the risk your LISC will become breast cancer. Talk to your healthcare provider about treatment options. Understanding your options will help you feel more confident about your plan for living with LCIS.

Living With

How do I take care of myself if I have lobular carcinoma in situ?

There’s a lot you can do to take care of yourself if you have LCIS:

  • Ask your healthcare provider what you can do to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer, such as maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Find out what physical changes in your breasts might indicate your lobular carcinoma in situ has become invasive breast cancer.
  • Examine your breasts monthly. You might notice changes that have nothing to do with LCIS but could be signs of other conditions.

When should I see my healthcare provider if I have lobular carcinoma in situ?

You should contact your healthcare provider when you notice changes in your breasts.

What questions should I ask my healthcare provider about my LCIS diagnosis?

Lobular carcinoma in situ is a rare disease that increases your risk for developing breast cancer. Understanding your risk and your options can help you feel more confident and in control of your situation. Start with asking the following questions:

  • How does lobular carcinoma in situ happen?
  • What is my risk for developing breast cancer?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • What are those treatments’ side effects?
  • Is there anything I can do on my own to reduce my risk of developing breast cancer?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) isn’t breast cancer. Being diagnosed with LCIS doesn’t mean you will develop breast cancer. It does mean you live with an increased risk for developing breast cancer. You might feel frustrated and frightened because you don’t have a clear idea what to expect. If that happens, ask your healthcare provider for help understanding what it means to live with LCIS. They will have insight into your individual situation, and they can make recommendations for programs and services that might be helpful.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/20/2021.

References

  • American Cancer Society. Lobular Carcinoma in Situ. (https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/non-cancerous-breast-conditions/lobular-carcinoma-in-situ.html) Accessed 10/11/2021.
  • American Cancer Society. Understanding Your Pathology Report: Lobular Carcinoma in Situ (LCIS). (https://www.cancer.org/treatment/understanding-your-diagnosis/tests/understanding-your-pathology-report/breast-pathology/lobular-carcinoma-in-situ.html) Accessed 10/11/2021.
  • BreastCancer.org. LCIS and Breast Cancer Risk. (https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/types/lcis/cancer_risk) Accessed 10/11/2021.
  • BreastCancer.org. Lobular Carcinoma in Situ (LCIS). (https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/types/lcis) Accessed 10/11/2021.
  • Oppong BA, King TA. Recommendations for women with lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22106556/) ). Oncology. Accessed 10/11/2021.
  • Wen HY, Brogi E. Lobular Carcinoma in Situ. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5841603/) Surg Pathol Clin. Accessed 10/11/2021.

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