Risk factors, diagnosis, treatment and outlook

If you have recently been screened for breast cancer and have been diagnosed with comedocarcinoma, you may have questions about this early-stage breast cancer, such as its potential severity and how it is treated. .

After a diagnosis of comedocarcinoma, your next step should be a discussion with your doctor.

In this article, we will provide information that can help inform this discussion. We’ll look at how comedocarcinoma is graded (its risk of recurrence), along with symptoms, treatments, and outlook.

Comedocarcinoma is a type of breast cancer that considered a very early stage (stage 0) or precancerous, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). It is also a subtype of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which accounts for nearly 1 out of 5 new diagnoses of breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).

DCIS is considered non-invasive breast cancer because it only affects cells in the milk ducts and has not spread to nearby tissues. However, almost all cases DCIS are treated to make sure the cancer does not spread (metastasize) in the future.

Unlike other forms of breast cancer, comedocarcinoma consists of small, plug-like growths that you may not realize until you have regular breast screenings. This precancer does not always cause symptoms, which makes routine mammography even more important in early detection.

Although there is no known cause of comedocarcinoma, the following risk factors could increase your chances to develop the CCIS:

According to a 2020 study, risk factors for estrogen receptor positive DCIS in African American women include:

  • first-degree family history of DCIS
  • early periods
  • use of birth control pills in the past 10 years
  • having a first birth later in life

Comedoccarcinoma is considered a “high-grade” subtype of DCIS that contains dead cancer cells inside the lesions.

DCIS can be categorized into grades I to III, as follows:

  • Class I: This indicates a low risk of recurrence and means that cancer cells look like healthy cells under a microscope.
  • Class II: Also called moderate grade, this means cancer cells can grow faster and there is a higher risk of recurrence.
  • Degree III: This is also known as ‘high grade’ DCIS and means there is a good chance the cancer will come back.

This means that although comedocarcinoma is considered a precancer, it is also the highest – and potentially the most aggressive – form of DCIS.

Comedocarcinoma does not always cause symptoms, but it is possible to experience breast pain. In some cases, this type of breast cancer can also cause nipple discharge which, unlike other types of breast cancer, is usually clear instead of bloody.

DCIS can also cause breast lumps. This is different more invasive breast cancersaccording to the ACS, which can lead to:

  • breast swelling
  • dimpled skin that may resemble orange peel
  • scaly, red, or thickened nipples and/or breast skin
  • nipples that turn inward
  • swollen lymph nodes under the arms or collarbone

You should seek medical attention immediately if you experience any changes or discomfort in the chest area. The same advice applies even if you have already been diagnosed with stage 0 breast cancer or a benign (non-cancerous) breast condition.

Comedoccarcinoma is most often discovered during a routine mammogram. In fact, it is estimated that 70% to 90% cases of DCIS are detected as abnormal calcifications during this method of breast imaging. These can show up as small white spots on a mammogram.

In addition to mammography, according to Breastcancer.org, a doctor can also confirm the presence of comedocarcinoma with a combination of:

Different types of DCIS, including comedocarcinoma, are confirmed by a biopsy sample under a microscope. “Comedo” describe what does cancer look like.

Once comedocarcinoma is confirmed, a pathologist determines staging. The stage of a cancer describes the extent of the cancer and its extent. Staging helps doctors determine treatment and outlook.

Camedocarcinoma, like other types of DCIS, is almost always stage 0 because the cancer has not spread beyond its starting point.

Like other types of DCIS, comedocarcinoma is considered stage 0, which is the lowest grade on cancer staging scales.

However, it is still possible for DCIS to spread outside the ducts into nearby tissues. In such cases, the cancer can become invasive and spread to other parts of the body. In most cases of DCIS are treated to prevent this from happening.

According to data reported by the NCI, DCIS carries a low risk of death, even decades later. The risk of death was found to be higher in African American women and women diagnosed before age 35.

Comedocarcinoma is a subtype of DCIS, which is a non-invasive or early form of breast cancer. These growths usually do not cause symptoms and are most often found during regular breast cancer screenings, such as mammograms.

Although the overall risk of death is low with this type of cancer, it is possible for comedocarcinoma to spread outside the breast ducts and invade other tissues. For this reason, a doctor will likely recommend preventative treatments such as surgery or hormone therapies.