Medullary carcinoma of the breast is a rare subtype of invasive ductal carcinoma (cancer that begins in the milk duct and spreads beyond it), accounting for about 3-5% of all cases of breast cancer. It is called “medullary” carcinoma because the tumor is a soft, fleshy mass that resembles a part of the brain called the medulla.
Medullary carcinoma can occur at any age, but it usually affects women in their late 40s and early 50s. Medullary carcinoma is more common in women who have a BRCA1 mutation. Studies have shown that medullary carcinoma is also more common in Japan than in the United States.
Medullary carcinoma cells are usually high-grade in their appearance and low-grade in their behavior. In other words, they look like aggressive, highly abnormal cancer cells, but they don’t act like them. Medullary carcinoma doesn’t grow quickly and usually doesn’t spread outside the breast to the lymph nodes. For this reason, it’s typically easier to treat than other types of breast cancer.
On the following pages, you can learn more about:
- Symptoms and Diagnosis of Medullary Carcinoma of the Breast
- Treatment of Medullary Carcinoma of the Breast
- Follow-Up Care for Medullary Carcinoma of the Breast
To connect with others who have been diagnosed with medullary carcinoma of the breast, visit the Breastcancer.org Discussion Board forum Less Common Types of Breast Cancer.
The medical experts for IDC Type: Medullary Carcinoma of the Breast are:
- Jennifer J. Griggs, M.D., medical oncologist/hematologist, Division of Hematology/Oncology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
- Clifford Hudis, M.D., Chief, Breast Cancer Medicine Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY
These experts are members of the Breastcancer.org Professional Advisory Board, including more than 70 medical experts in breast cancer-related fields.