Cribriform breast cancer, also known as cribriform carcinoma, is a rare type of breast cancer that is usually slow growing and low-grade. This indicates in general, those who have cribriform breast cancer have a positive prognosis (outlook) after treatment.
A type of early breast cancer called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) also contains cribriform cancer cells. If this condition is not mixed with any other type, it’s called pure cribriform.
Symptoms of Cribriform Breast Cancer
The condition is normally detected during routine breast screening before any other symptoms present. However, the most common symptom of this type of breast cancer is a small lump or thickened skin on the breast.
Diagnosis of Cribriform Breast Cancer
To accurately diagnose cribriform breast cancer, several tests may be recommended. These include:
- Physical exam: The doctor conducts a manual examination of the patient’s breasts through which he/she can detect a lump and any other changes.
- Mammogram: This is done through an X-ray, which produces internal pictures of the breast.
- Ultrasound: This is an imaging test that uses high-frequency sound waves to take internal pictures of breast tissue.
- Fine Needle Biopsy: If a lump is confirmed, a biopsy may be recommended. During this procedure a thin needle is connected to a syringe and inserted into the lump to remove a sample of tissue or fluid from the lump and sent to the lab for further examination under a microscope.
- Staging workup: This is a common process performed after detecting the presence of cancer cells in the patient. It’s used to determine how far the cancer cells have spread.
Treatment for Cribriform Breast Cancer
Treatment of cribriform breast cancer is based on the following factors:
- Size of the cancer cells
- Location of the cancer cells
- Characteristics/features of the cancer cells
- The staging
The following procedures can be used in the treatment of cribriform breast cancer:
Surgical procedures for cribriform breast cancer
- Lumpectomy: Also known as breast-conserving surgery, a lumpectomy is a procedure that involves removing part of the breast. Radiation therapy may be recommended after the procedure to kill any remaining cancer cells.
- Mastectomy: This involves the removal of the entire breast tissue. Patients who have numerous, highly aggressive invasive ductal tumors may benefit from a mastectomy. This procedure can be followed by breast reconstruction.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is the use of medication to kill cancer cells, typically by preventing the growth, division, and production of new cancer cells. This can be administered before surgery to shrink a large tumor thus making surgery easier and/or lower the chance of recurrence.
- Radiation: This involves the use of high-energy x-rays to destroy cancer cells.
- Hormone therapy: Also known as endocrine therapy, this is a fairly effective treatment for the majority of cancers that test positive for either the ER or PR hormone receptors. Prior to surgery, hormonal therapy may also be used to shrink a tumor. This will facilitate surgery and/or reduce the risk of recurrence.
- Biologic (targeted) therapy: The method uses antibodies or small molecule drugs to activate the patient’s body’s immune system to fight cancer cells.
- Hormone (targeted) therapy: Progesterone and estrogen can be used to treat breast tumors that have hormone receptors that are positive. These prescriptions come in pills and may be given for an extended period of time.