Invasive lobular cancer (ILC) tends to be significantly larger in size with significantly more positive lymph nodes, whereas ILC has a significantly more favorable outcome, compared to stage-matched invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC). The mechanism accounting for such differences remains elusive. Based on morphological, immunohistochemical, and molecular studies of over 1,000 cases of human breast cancers, we hypothesize that the differences may result from the structural and/or functional differences of their surrounding myoepithelial cell layers, which dictate lobular and ductal tumor cells to follow different pathways of invasion or metastasis. The background, rationale, supportive data, and implications of our hypothesis are presented and discussed.
Keywords: Invasive lobular cancer; human breast cancers; invasive ductal carcinoma; myoepithelial cell layers.