If you’ve recently undergone screening for breast cancer and been diagnosed with comedocarcinoma, you may have questions about this early stage breast cancer, such as its potential severity and how it’s treated.
After a comedocarcinoma diagnosis, your next step should be a discussion with your doctor.
In this article, we’ll provide information that can help inform that discussion. We’ll take a look at how comedocarcinoma is graded (its risk for recurrence), along with symptoms, treatments, and outlook.
Comedocarcinoma is a type of breast cancer that’s
DCIS is considered a noninvasive breast cancer because it only affects cells in the milk ducts and has not spread to nearby tissues. However,
Unlike other forms of breast cancer, comedocarcinoma consists of small plug-like growths that you may not realize you have until you undergo a regular breast screening. This precancer does not always cause symptoms, which makes routine mammography even more important in early detection.
While there are no known causes for comedocarcinoma, the following risk factors
- genetic mutations, including BRCA1 and BRCA2
- family history of breast cancer
- personal history of a benign breast condition
- using hormone replacement therapy longer than 5 years after menopause
- the older you are, especially if you’re over 50
According to one 2020 study, risk factors for estrogen receptor-positive DCIS in African American women include:
- first-degree family history of DCIS
- early menstruation
- using birth control pills in the last 10 years
- having a first birth later in life
Comedocarcinoma is considered a “high-grade” subtype of DCIS that contains dead cancer cells inside the lesions.
DCIS may be rated grades I to III, as follows:
- Grade I: This indicates a low risk of recurrence and means that the cancerous cells look similar to healthy ones under a microscope
- Grade II: Also called moderate grade, this means that the cancerous cells may grow faster and there’s a higher chance of recurrence.
- Grade III: This is also known as “high-grade” DCIS and means there’s a good chance that the cancer will return.
This means that while comedocarcinoma is considered a precancer, it’s also the highest grade — and potentially the most aggressive — form of DCIS.
Comedocarcinoma doesn’t always cause symptoms, but it’s possible to experience breast pain. In some cases, this type of breast cancer may also cause nipple discharge, which, unlike other types of breast cancer, is usually clear instead of bloody.
DCIS may also possibly cause breast lumps. This is unlike
- breast swelling
- dimpled skin that may resemble an orange peel
- flaky, red, or thickened nipples and/or breast skin
- nipples that turn inward
- swollen lymph nodes under your arms or collarbone
You should see a doctor right away if you experience any changes or discomfort in the breast area. The same guidance applies even if you’ve already been diagnosed with stage 0 breast cancer or a benign (noncancerous) breast condition.
Comedocarcinoma is most often found during a routine mammogram. In fact, it’s estimated that
In addition to mammography, according to Breastcancer.org, a doctor may also confirm the presence of comedocarcinoma with a combination of:
- breast exam
- breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- breast ultrasound
- breast biopsy, where a small sample is taken via needle aspiration and sent to a lab for further analysis
Different types of DCIS, including comedocarcinoma, are confirmed via a biopsy sample under a microscope. “Comedo”
Once comedocarcinoma is confirmed, a pathologist determines
Camedocarcinoma, like other DCIS types, are almost always stage 0 because the cancer has not spread beyond where it started.
While comedocarcinoma is considered a precancer, like other types of DCIS, it
The extent of treatment for DCIS
Like other types of DCIS, comedocarcinoma is considered stage 0, which is the lowest rating on cancer staging scales.
However, it’s still possible for DCIS to spread outside of the ducts into nearby tissues. In such cases, the cancer may become invasive and spread to other areas of the body.
According to data reported by the
Comedocarcinoma is a subtype of DCIS, which is a noninvasive or early form of breast cancer. These growths don’t usually cause symptoms, and they’re most often found during regular breast cancer screenings, such as mammography.
While the overall risk of death is low with this type of cancer, it’s possible for comedocarcinoma to spread outside of the breast ducts and invade other tissues. Because of this, a doctor will likely recommend preventive treatments such as surgery or hormonal therapies.