About 180,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. The most common form of breast cancer is called invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC). It’s responsible for about 80 percent of all breast cancer diagnoses.

Carcinoma refers to a type of cancer that begins in the skin cells or the tissues lining your internal organs. Adenocarcinomas are more specific types of carcinomas that originate in the glandular tissue of the body.

Invasive ductal carcinoma, also known as infiltrating ductal carcinoma, gets its name because it begins in the milk-carrying ducts of the breast, and spreads to (or invades) surrounding breast tissues. The two most common forms of invasive breast cancer are:

  1. Invasive ductal carcinoma. Accounts for 80 percent of breast cancer diagnoses. This type begins in and spreads from the milk ducts.
  2. Invasive lobular carcinoma. Accounts for 10 percent of breast cancer diagnoses. This type begins in the milk-producing lobules.

While IDC can affect women at any age, about 66 percent of diagnoses affect women 55 years and older. This breast cancer can also affect men.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with IDC, rest assured that there are many different forms of treatment available to help cure and contain the condition.

The treatments for IDC fall into two main types:

  • Local treatments for IDC target the cancerous tissue of the breast and the surrounding areas, such as the chest and lymph nodes.
  • Systemic treatments for IDC are applied throughout the body, targeting any cells that may have traveled and spread from the original tumor. Systemic treatments are effective at reducing the likelihood that the cancer will return once it has been treated.

Local treatments

There are two main types of local treatments for IDC:

  • Surgery is used to remove the cancerous tumor and determine whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. Surgery is typically the doctor’s first response when dealing with IDC. It takes about two weeks to completely recover from a lumpectomy and three to four weeks to recover from a mastectomy.
  • Radiation therapy directs powerful radiation beams at the breast, chest, armpit, and collarbone to kill any cells that may be in the location of the tumor. Radiation therapy takes about 10 minutes to administer over the course of five to eight weeks. Certain symptoms, such as fatigue, may take up to 6­–12 weeks to subside.

Different kinds of surgeries and radiation therapies available for treating this condition include:

  • lumpectomy, or removal of the tumor
  • mastectomy, or removal of the breast
  • lymph node dissection and removal
  • external beam radiation, in which radiation beams target the entire breast area
  • internal partial-breast radiation, in which radioactive materials are placed near the site of a lumpectomy
  • external partial-breast radiation, in which radiation beams directly target the original cancer site

Systemic treatments

Sometimes surgery is not an option for someone with invasive ductal carcinoma. If the tumor is too large, or the cancer has already metastasized (spread) to other areas of the body, systemic treatments are needed.

The types of systemic treatments for IDC are:

  • chemotherapy
  • hormonal therapy
  • targeted protein therapies

Chemotherapy for invasive ductal carcinoma

Chemotherapy consists of anticancer medications that are taken in pill form or injected into the bloodstream. Chemotherapy is out of your system in only a few hours, but it may take up to six months after treatment has subsided to fully recover from side effects, such as nerve damage, joint pain, and fatigue. There are many different chemotherapy drugs to treat ICD such as Taxol and Adriamycin; talk to your doctor about what’s right for you.

Hormonal therapy for invasive ductal carcinoma

Hormonal therapy is used to treat cancer cells with receptors for estrogen or progesterone. The presence of these hormones can encourage breast cancer cells to multiply. Hormonal therapy essentially removes or blocks these hormones to stop the cancer from growing. Hormonal therapy recovery times vary based on the drug and the length of administration. Some hormonal therapy drugs are taken regularly for five or more years; side effects can take anywhere from several months to a year to wear off once treatment has stopped.

Types of hormonal therapy include:

Targeted therapies

Targeted therapies are used to destroy breast cancer cells by interfering with specific proteins inside the cell that affect growth. Certain proteins that are targeted are:

  • HER2
  • VEGF

Invasive ductal carcinoma is a common form of breast cancer that affects up to 80 percent of all breast cancer cases. When it comes to treatment, there are local treatments that target specific parts of the body and systemic therapies that affect the whole body or multiple organ systems. Talk to your doctor about the kind of treatment that is right for you and what is best for your stage of breast cancer.