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Tubular Breast Cancer (Tubular Carcinoma)

Also known as Tubular Carcinoma of the Breast, tubular breast cancer is a subtype of (Invasive Ductal Carcinoma), which means that the cancer cells can spread out to other parts of the body. However, tubular breast cancer is less likely to spread, compared with other types of invasive cancer.

This type of cancer gets its name – tubular – because when the cancer cells are looked at with a microscope, they appear to have a tube-shaped form. Tubular breast cancer can affect anyone at any age, but it is common among women who are more than 50 years old, and accounts for 5% to 10% of all breast cancers.

The cells of tubular breast cancer usually grow very slowly and are considered low-grade, hence giving a good prognosis after treatment; that’s if it doesn’t have any other underlying types of breast cancer.

Symptoms of Tubular Breast Cancer

During the early stages of tubular breast cancer, there might not be any symptoms present, and can only be visible through a routine mammogram. Also, the tumors associated with this cancer are small, and might not also be felt during a breast exam. But as it progresses, it can present itself through symptoms a lump on the breast that feels hard to the touch.

Diagnosis of Tubular Breast Cancer

In most women, Tubular Breast Cancer is diagnosed during a routine breast screening or mammogram after which you’ll be referred to a breast specialist for further examination. Other tests also ordered to confirm the presence of breast cancer cells, and to check how much of these have affected the breast include:

  1. An ultrasound scan
  2. Mammogram
  3. Core Biopsy where a tissue sample is removed from breast for analysis
  4. Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) whereby a fine needle and syringe are used to take samples of the cancer cells for examination.

Treatment of Tubular Breast Cancer

The first treatment for removing the Tubular Breast Cancer is surgery. Based on the test results, the doctor will customize the treatment plan. Before the surgery, the doctor has to consider:

  • The aggressiveness of the cancer
  • Stage of the cancer
  • Tumor size and location
  • Age and overall health
  • History of breast cancer in the family
  • Gene mutation test results

There are two types of surgery when it comes to treating Tubular Breast Cancer. These are:

Breast-conserving surgery (BCS)

Also known as a lumpectomy, the surgeon removes the cancer cells, as well as a minimal amount of healthy breast tissue surrounding the tumor. After the lumpectomy, radiation therapy is recommended to reduce the chances of the cancer returning.


This is the surgical removal of the entire breast, and it would be recommended if:

  1. The area of the cancer is large
  2. The cancer cells are in multiple areas of the breast
  3. There is a gene mutation which increases the likelihood of breast cancer
  4. There’s a history of breast cancer in the family
  5. The patient cannot stand radiation

Lymph Node Removal

Although Tubular Breast Cancer is less likely to spread to the lymph nodes under the arm, the breast specialists might want to ensure it hasn’t spread there. This is done through a lymph node biopsy, where a small sample of the lymph nodes are removed and tested for cancer cells. If they are found to be affected by cancer, then these lymph nodes are surgically removed – a procedure known as lymph node clearance.

Additional Treatments for Tubular Breast Cancer

After a lumpectomy or mastectomy, you may need additional treatments, known as adjuvant treatments. The goal is to give the best promising outcome. These treatments include:

  • Chemotherapy: Although people affected by Tubular Breast Cancer don’t usually undergo chemotherapy since the cancer is usually low grade, sometimes they are offered the option. Chemotherapy is an anti-cancer drug therapy that is done before surgery to reduce the size of the tumor with the aim of making it operable. The treatment is also given after surgery to minimize the chances of the cancer returning.
  • Radiation therapy: If you go through a lumpectomy, you may need radiation therapy to destroy any cancer cells and reduce the chances of it recurring on the same breast. This is done on an outpatient basis for a duration of 4 to 6 weeks.
  • Hormone therapy: This treatment is considered if the cancer cells have receptors that bind to estrogen. Administration of hormone therapy reduces the chance of the cancer returning or progressing further.
  • Targeted therapy: If the breast cancer cells have human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 gene (HER2), treatment drugs to specifically target it may be given.
  • Bisphosphonates: Bisphosphonates are drugs that are used to either slow down or prevent bone damage. When used for cancer treatment in post-menopausal women, they reduce the risk of the Tubular Breast Cancer spreading.

Recovery After Tubular Breast Cancer

After the successful treatment of Tubular Breast Cancer, your doctor will keep a close watch on you. Follow-up appointments are required and should be followed as agreed with the breast doctor, where he/she will do tests for signs of recurrence. A mammogram and screening might be required every 6 to 12 months.

Next Steps

At King’s College Hospital London Dubai, our Breast Care Clinic caters to every type of breast cancer and breast conditions. If you are facing any kind of abnormal changes to your breast, regardless how small, get in touch for a consultation with one of our breast doctors. For more information on breast cancer and breast care, book an appointment below.


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