What is Ductal Carcinoma?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2018
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Ductal carcinoma is a form of cancer that occurs most frequently in the milk ducts in the breasts. There are also cases in which this type of cancer develops in the pancreas. When identified and treated in its earlier stages, the chances for a full recovery are excellent.

As with many forms of cancer, the first sign of the presence of a ductal carcinoma is the presence of a lump in the breast. Upon examination by a physician, the breast tumor is often removed and tested to determine if the growth is malignant or benign. Depending on the size and condition of the tumor at the time of detection, the physician may also recommend the removal of a small amount of breast tissue surrounding the lump. This is to minimize the risk to the patient in the event that what appears to be a benign growth is ultimately determined to be a malignancy.

Dealing with breast cancer of this type normally takes two forms. The first is a procedure referred to as a lumpectomy. With this technique, breast tumors are surgically removed and tested. Should the lump prove to be benign or not yet begun to metastasize, further treatments are often not required. However, if there is any indication that they cancer cells have begun to spread to other others of the body, the patient will often undergo a series of radiation or chemotherapy treatments, as determined by the attending physician.


In some cases, ductal carcinoma leads to the need for a more radical surgery known as a mastectomy. With this procedure, the carcinoma and a significant amount of the surrounding breast tissue is removed. Often, the mastectomy is only utilized when there is clear evidence that the tumor is malignant and has begun to metastasize. When this is the case, removing as much of the invaded tissue is considered necessary in order to preserve the life of the patient. It is not unusual for a mastectomy to be followed by additional treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

Ductal carcinoma is considered one of the most common forms of breast cancer today, accounting for just under 75% of diagnosed cases today. Depending on the extent of the surgery required to deal with the cancer, women undergoing treatments may also benefit from undergoing counseling during the treatment series or immediately afterward. This is particularly true when a mastectomy is necessary.

Because ductal carcinoma strikes in a area of the body that is often identified with femininity and womanhood, it is not unusual for the patient to feel somehow less attractive. There may also be a fear that her partner will lose interest and sever the relationship. Competent counseling, when coupled with the loving support of the partner, can help the patient to overcome these fears and get back to the business of enjoying life.



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