Key Points about Mucinous Ductal Carcinoma

  • Mucinous ductal carcinoma is a rare form of invasive ductal carcinoma that begins in the breast's milk duct and spreads from there.
  • Diagnosing mucinous ductal carcinoma typically includes breast exam, biopsy and imaging tests.
  • Treatment for mucinous ductal carcinoma usually begins with surgery and is followed by other therapies such as chemotherapy, hormone therapy or radiation therapy.


Mucinous carcinoma of the breast is a rare form of invasive ductal carcinoma, meaning that it begins in the breast's milk duct and spreads from there. The term “mucinous” refers to the fact that the tumor is made up of mucin, which is the main ingredient in mucus (spit).

Mucinous ductal carcinoma makes up only 2 to 3 percent of all invasive breast cancers. Fortunately, this type of breast cancer is typically less aggressive than other types of invasive breast cancers and often responds well to treatment.

Mucinous ductal carcinoma causes

Mucinous ductal carcinoma is caused when the milk duct cells develop mutations (changes) to their DNA.

Mucinous ductal carcinoma risk factors

Factors that may increase your risk for developing mucinous ductal carcinoma include:

  • Being between the ages of 60 and 75
  • Being female
  • Being post-menopausal

Mucinous ductal carcinoma symptoms

In its early stages, this condition does not typically cause symptoms. When the cancer has grown, the only symptom is a small lump (typically less than three-fourths of an inch in size) that can be felt under the skin.

Mucinous ductal carcinoma diagnosis

Your doctor will use one or more of the following tests to diagnose this condition:

  • Breast exam - your doctor will begin by performing a breast exam, in which they use the pads of the fingers to carefully check your breasts for abnormalities.
  • Biopsy - during this test, your doctor removes a biopsy (tissue sample) from the suspicious area. The biopsy is sent to the lab for close analysis, where technicians can determine if there are any abnormalities present.
  • Breast ultrasound - this type of imaging test uses sound waves to create detailed images of the inside of your body. Your doctor can use ultrasound images to determine if there are any abnormalities present.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - this type of imaging test uses high-powered magnets to create detailed images of the inside of your body. Your doctor can use the MRI images to determine if any abnormalities are present.
  • Mammogram - this type of imaging test is a specialized X-ray used to screen the breasts for abnormalities.

Mucinous ductal carcinoma treatments

Depending on your personal health history, the extent of your mucinous ductal carcinoma and other factors, your oncologist may recommend one or more of the following treatment options:

  • Surgery - in most cases, the treatment for this condition is the surgical removal of the cancerous area. The type of surgery you will need to undergo depends on the extent of the cancer. Your surgeon will work to preserve as much surrounding healthy tissue as possible. In some cases, you may opt to undergo reconstructive surgery following surgery to treat breast cancer.
  • Chemotherapy - you may need to undergo chemotherapy after your surgical treatment. During this treatment, medication is used to destroy cancerous cells. Chemotherapy can be taken via an oral (by mouth) pill or intravenously (through a vein). Chemotherapy can help destroy any cancerous cells that your surgeon was not able to remove surgically.
  • Hormone therapy - your doctor may prescribe hormone medications, which can help reduce the chances of the cancer returning in the future.
  • Radiation therapy - you may need to undergo radiation therapy after your surgery to remove the tumor. During this treatment, high-energy waves destroy microscopic cancer cells that could not be removed surgically.

When should I seek care?

If you experience any of these symptoms, start by voicing your concerns and symptoms to your primary care provider. From there, your doctor may suggest seeing an oncologist for more specialized treatment.

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