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What Causes Mucinous Carcinoma & How Is It Treated?

Mucinous Carcinoma is a rare form of cancer that develops normally in the breasts but in some cases it has also developed in the ovaries. This type of cancer progresses very slowly which makes the prognosis of an individual with this form of cancer quite good. Research suggests that Mucinous Carcinoma is diagnosed in only 4% at most in all forms of breast cancers. The pathogenesis with regard to Mucinous Carcinoma of the breast is not clearly understood. This form of cancer is generally seen in females above the age of 60.[1]

A study was conducted to understand the clinical and radiographic changes seen in people with Mucinous Carcinoma. A detailed pathology report of about 450 females was analyzed during the study of female who were diagnosed with Mucinous Carcinoma with an age range of 40-80 years. The mammographic findings in these females were studied. It was noted that 30% of the participants of the study had a palpable breast mass while 70% of people were completely asymptomatic but had significant mammographic changes.[2]

What Causes Mucinous Carcinoma & How Is It Treated?

The findings in the mammography included the presence of solitary masses in about 10 patients that were poorly defined and lobulated. Cluster of masses was seen in two patients that were also poorly defined. There was only one patient that had a well-defined mass. The poorly defined lobulated mass was the primary finding of the mammogram that confirmed the diagnosis of Mucinous Carcinoma.[2]

The absence of any metastasis even in large tumors proved that this form of cancer is slow progressing than other forms of breast cancer like infiltrating ductal carcinomas of the breast. This article explains the various causes and treatment options available for Mucinous Carcinoma.[2]

What Causes Mucinous Carcinoma & How Is It Treated?

Any cancer occurs when there is abnormal cell division in a specific area. This results in accumulation of cells causing a tumor to form. The rate at which the cell divides determines whether the cancer is rapidly progressive or not. The causes of Mucinous Carcinoma are quite similar to that of other forms of breast cancer. A combination of both genetic and environmental factors plays a role in the development of Mucinous Carcinoma.[3]

The risk factors that increase the likelihood of an individual developing Mucinous Carcinoma include Genetic makeup which plays a key role in determining whether an individual is at an increased risk for developing Mucinous Carcinoma. Mutations in the gene involving the BRCA1 and BRCA2 increase the risk of a female developing Mucinous Carcinoma. Additionally, a family history of any form of breast cancer also increases the risk of an individual developing Mucinous Carcinoma later on in life.[3]

A female with a prior history of breast cancer which has been in remission is more likely than others to develop Mucinous Carcinoma. As stated, Mucinous Carcinoma is seen mostly in elderly population and hence females above the age of 60 years are at an increased risk for developing Mucinous Carcinoma. The risk further increases if the female is overweight or obese. Alcohol abuse is yet another common risk factor for developing Mucinous Carcinoma than people who do not drink alcohol.[3]

A female who has been exposed to radiation treatments for other forms of cancer is also at an increased risk for developing Mucinous Carcinoma. Females who start having their menstrual cycle at an early age also are at an increased risk for developing Mucinous Carcinoma. Similarly women who attain menopause much later in life than is the norm also are more likely to develop Mucinous Carcinoma. A female who is undergoing hormone therapy for hormonal imbalances also at times can develop Mucinous Carcinoma.[3]

As is the case with other forms of cancer, the treatment for Mucinous Carcinoma depends on the stage of the cancer, the overall health of the individual, and the extent of the damage caused. Since Mucinous Carcinoma is very slow growing form of cancer, treatment for it is usually quite less aggressive when compared to other forms of Mucinous Carcinoma. The mainstay of treatment for Mucinous Carcinoma include:[3]

Surgery: A surgical procedure is necessary to remove the tumor along with adjoining lymph nodes that may have been affected. The surgery will be done to remove the area of the breast with the tumor. This procedure is termed as lumpectomy. If there are a cluster of lumps then the entire breast may have to be removed. This procedure is termed as mastectomy.[3]

Chemotherapy: Following surgery, the patient will have to undergo a round of chemotherapy. This therapy involves use of medications that kill cancer cells anywhere in the body. However, chemotherapy comes with significant side effect profile to include hair loss, nausea, vomiting, and appetite loss to name a few.[3]

Hormone Therapy: This is believed to be quite effective in treating Mucinous Carcinoma. It also lowers down the recurrence rate of the cancer significantly. This therapy involves decreasing the levels of estrogen in the body. This is generally recommended for cancers that are deemed hormone positive.[3]

The prognosis with treatment of Mucinous Carcinoma is quite good. In fact, this form of cancer has the best prognosis among all forms of breast cancer. Studies estimate a 10 year survival rate of 90% in people with diagnosed Mucinous Carcinoma. However, prognosis of Mucinous Carcinoma in other parts of the body like the colon or the lungs is quite guarded. It should be noted that survival rates are statistics in general and people with other medical conditions tend to have more guarded prognosis than people without any other underlying conditions.[3]

In conclusion, Mucinous Carcinoma is a rare form of breast cancer even though the ovaries, colon, and the lungs may also get affected by Mucinous Carcinoma. This form of cancer grows very slowly, especially in the breast making the prognosis of this form of breast cancer quite good compared to other forms of breast cancer. For best results of treatment, diagnosing the condition early is vital. This can be done by doing regular self-breast examinations.[1, 2, 3]

Additionally, conducting mammograms on a regular basis especially after the age of 60 is quite effective in diagnosing Mucinous Carcinoma at an early stage. Also, it is important to eat a balanced diet, abstain from smoking, and drinking alcohol only in moderation are some of the lifestyle changes that can significantly reduce cancer risk especially in people who have a family history of this disease. The prognosis of Mucinous Carcinoma of the colon, ovaries, or lungs is quite guarded; however, early detection and treatment can improve the overall outlook quite significantly.[1, 2, 3]


Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 21, 2022

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