Tubular Breast Cancer
Tubular carcinoma is a type of invasive ductal carcinoma. Tubular carcinoma is often detected at screening mammography as a small irregularly shaped mass with spiculated margins. Its distinguishing feature is the visual appearance of the cells under a microscope. In this case, the cancer cells resemble tiny tubes that are well differentiated, meaning the cells are more like normal cells than poorly-defined ones.
I just want to let you know that I have created a newer version of this page with more up-to-date material on Tubular Carcinoma of the breast. However, this page still has good information.
Invasive Tubular Carcinoma
“Tubularity” can be thought of as a characteristic of breast tumor cells that are adjacent to an open lumen.
Tubular breast carcinoma is not necessarily a distinct type, but falls along a spectrum, or a certain ‘percentage‘ of a tumor with tubular cells.
In some studies, breast tumors with more than 70% tubular cells, and of low nuclear grade and mitotic activity, may almost be considered benign and are almost never associated with breast cancer death or even metastasis.
Tubular breast cancer has a very high survival rate, and is considered a very mild form of breast cancer.
Tubular breast cancer accounts for no more than 2% of all breast cancer diagnoses and occurs most frequently in women who are in their 50s. Tubular breast carcinoma tends to be small, highly estrogen dependent and HER2/neu negative.
Women with this type of breast cancer are less likely to metastasize and have an excellent survival rate. On Average, women with tubular breast carcinoma maintain a disease free status of near 100% over ten years, and an overall survival of 70%. Treatment of tubular breast carcinoma with breast conserving surgery tends to provide excellent results. Women with tubular breast carcinoma tend to have a near-normal life expectancy. As a result, the kinds of adjuvant therapies often used to treat breast cancer are not necessarily required to manage tubular breast cancer.
Below is a bunch of Q&A…
- How rare is tubular carcinoma? This type of cancer is extremely rare, accounting for about 2% of all breast cancers.
- Who gets tubular breast carcinoma? Although it can occur at any age, tubular carcinoma is much more common in women over the age of 50. It can also occur in men but it is very, very rare.
- How is tubular carcinoma diagnosed? Tubular breast carcinoma is diagnosed using a range of tests including physical breast exams, a mammogram and an ultrasound, followed by a core biopsy or a fine need aspiration. Many tubular breast cancers are detecting during routine breast screening.
- What are the treatment options for tubular breast carcinoma? As with all types of breast cancer, the feature of your tubular carcinoma will affect what treatments you might be offered. These include surgery (breast-conserving, or mastectomy), checking lymph nodes under the arm area, and adjuvant treatments (radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, or targeted therapy).
- What are the symptoms of tubular breast carcinoma? Like any other types of breast cancer, tubular carcinoma of the breast may not cause any symptoms at first. Over time, a lump may grow larger enough to be felt during breast self-exam or an exam by your doctor.
- How big is a tubular carcinoma? They are usually small, 1 cm or less in diameter, and feel firm or hard to the touch.
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- Sheppard, Declan G , Whitman, Gary J., Fornage, Bruno D. Stelling, Carol B. Huynh, Phan T.,, Sahin, Aysegul A. Tubular Carcinoma of the Breast: Mammographic and Sonographic Features. American Journal of Roentgenology, 2000; 174:253-257
- Rakha EA, Lee AH, Evans AJ, Menon S, Assad NY, Hodi Z, Macmillan D, Blamey RW, Ellis IO. Tubular carcinoma of the breast: further evidence to support its excellent prognosis. J Clin Oncol. (Jan. 2010)28(1):99-104.
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- Li CI, Uribe DJ, Daling JR Clinical characteristics of different histologic types of breast cancer. (2005) Br J Cancer 93:10461052.
- Stalsberg H,Hartmann WH .The delimitation of tubular carcinoma of the breast. Hum Pathol (2000)31:601607