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Surgical Pathology Criteria

Lobular Carcinoma in Situ of the Breast


  • A lesion composed of neoplastic lobular cells without stromal invasion

Alternate / historical names

  • Lobular neoplasia

Diagnostic Criteria

  • Uniform population of cells with round, sometimes eccentric nuclei
    • Two cytologic types (mixtures and intermediate forms may occur)
      • Classic
        • Small round nucleli
        • Fine chromatin, smooth nuclear contours
        • Nucleoli small, inconspicuous
        • Mitotic figures infrequent
        • Has been subdivided as:
          • Type A - small completely bland cells
          • Type B - slightly larger, slightly irregular, small nucleoli
      • Pleomorphic
        • Moderately large nuclei
        • Coarse chromatin
        • Promininent nucleoli
        • Mitotic figures not uncommon
        • Central necrosis may be seen
        • Requires confirmation of lobular nature with a negative E-cadherin stain
    • Lightly eosinophilic to vacuolated cytoplasm
      • Signet ring cells may be present
  • Discohesive pattern
  • Uniform cells (above) must fill all the acini in at least one lobular unit and half the acini must be expanded
    • Expansion of acini apparent at low magnification
    • Expanded acini typically balloon-like
  • May form tiny acini but must not form cribriform spaces or micropapillae
  • Pagetoid spread into ducts is common
    • May completely fill ducts
    • May involve sclerosing adenosis
  • Lesions fulfilling some but not all required features of LCIS are considered Atypical Lobular Hyperplasia

Richard L Kempson MD
Department of Pathology
Stanford University School of Medicine
Stanford CA 94305-5342

Original posting:: May 1, 2006

Supplemental studies


  • E-cadherin is typically negative in normal and neoplastic lobular cells
    • It appears to be a sensitive marker of ductal differentiation vs lobular differentiation; but its utility in borderline lesions is currently uncertain
    • In pagetoid spread of LCIS into ducts, an E-caherin negative population will be seen disrupting the positively stained normal ductal cells
  • Cytokeratin 8 (detected by CAM5.2) may stain both ductal and lobular processes but accentuates the discohesive pattern in LCIS ("bag of marbles")

Differential Diagnosis

Ductal vs. Lobular may be a problem in pagetoid or complete involvement of ducts by LCIS, in solid low grade DCIS, or in lobular involvement by DCIS cells (cancerization of lobules)
Cohesive Non-cohesive
May show moderate to marked pleomorphism Mild to moderate pleomorphism
No pagetoid involvement of ducts May show pagetoid pattern in ducts
May show irregular or partial involvement of acini Uniform involvment of acini
Frequent cribriform or micropapillary pattern No cribriform spaces or micropapillae
Frequently amphophilic cytoplasm Cytoplasm usually clear to eosinophilic
E-cadherin positive E-cadherin negative
Indeterminate cases will be encountered and should be treated as DCIS (excision with clear margins)

LCIS vs. Atypical Lobular Hyperplasia (ALH)

  • LCIS requires that all the acini in at least one lobular unit be completely filled and that half the acini in that unit must be expanded
  • If either of the above features is lacking, designate as ALH


  • Lobular carcinoma in situ is considered to be a marker of increased risk of invasive carcinoma it can be a precursor lesion
    • The increased risk applies to both breasts in most studies
      • Recent data suggest 2/3 of subsequent carcinomas are in the ipsilateral breast
    • In the past there has been no consensus about management of patients with LCIS in a core biopsy
      • A recent study provides data indicating that patients with LCIS in a core should have an excision
      • We particularly consider its presence in a core biopsy to be an indication for excisional biopsy in the following situations:
        • If there is discordance between the mammographic and pathologic findings
        • If another lesion such as atypical ductal hyperplasia is present
        • If the lobular nature of the cells is at all equivocal
        • If the LCIS is extensive
    • In an excisional biopsy:
      • We suggest excision with clear margins if florid/extensive, pleomorphic, extensively necrotic or predominantly signet ring
      • Otherwise, margins are not relevant if LCIS is the only lesion
        • Nevertheless, we generally report margin status to satisfy those who want the information

Relative risk for development of invasive breast carcinoma

  • No increased risk
    • Non-proliferative fibrocystic change
    • Fibroadenoma
    • Solitary papilloma
  • Slightly increased risk (1.5 to 2 times)
    • Proliferative fibrocystic change
    • Usual ductal hyperplasia
    • Sclerosing adenosis (florid)
    • Radial scar
    • Complex fibroadenoma (approximately 3 times risk)
  • Moderately increased risk (4 to 5 times)
    • Atypical ductal hyperplasia (no family history)
    • Atypical lobular hyperplasia
  • High risk (8 to 10 times)
    • Ductal carcinoma in situ, low grade
    • Lobular carcinoma in situ
    • Atypical ductal hyperplasia, if history of carcinoma in primary relatives
  • Very high risk (precise level not known)
    • Ductal carcinoma in situ, high grade

Grading / Staging / Report

  • Grading is not applicable
  • Staging is not applicable
  • The surgical pathology report should contain or address the following:
    • Type of resection or biopsy and location
    • Results of any supplementary studies performed
    • Extent of LCIS
    • (Margins of excision are not relevant)


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