Causes of Invasive Ductal Carcinoma

The causes of invasive ductal carcinoma have not been conclusively established. Researchers have determined that cancer can form when the cells in a milk-producing duct undergo changes that cause them to grow uncontrollably, divide very rapidly or remain viable longer than they should. The result is an accumulation of excess cells that can form a mass, or tumor, and potentially spread to nearby lymph nodes and distant areas of the body. The underlying reason for those cellular changes, however, remains unclear.

By evaluating the results of extensive studies, scientists have identified certain hormonal, environmental and lifestyle factors that are believed to influence a person’s breast cancer risk, such as smoking, poor nutrition and prior radiation therapy administered to the chest area. Even so, it’s important to keep in mind that some individuals who have no risk factors develop cancer, while others with one or more risk factors do not. Most likely, the precise cause is a complex interaction of many factors.

In rare cases, the causes of invasive ductal carcinoma have been traced to inherited attributes, such as mutations of the:

  • Breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1), a tumor suppressor gene
  • Breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2), a tumor suppressor gene
  • ErbB2 gene, which produces the HER2 protein that promotes cellular proliferation

As a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Moffitt Cancer Center is a recognized leader in breast cancer research. Because our services are research based, our patients have access to cutting-edge techniques and promising new medications that are available only through clinical trials. We continue to make great strides in understanding the causes of breast cancer and developing effective approaches to its prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

If you’d like to discuss possible causes of invasive ductal carcinoma with the breast cancer experts at Moffitt, call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online. No referrals are required.