As the name suggests, this carcinoma has typical “perforated” growth pattern. These cells in the cribriform carcinoma have what appears to be distinctive holes inbetween, consequently appearing like “swiss cheese”. This is a rare diagnosis which usually has an excellent prognosis, with a survival rate of 80%. This cancer is as rare as an incidence rate of only 6%. These tumor cells invade in nestlike structure the connective tissue or the stroma of the breast. it is not a very aggressive kind of cancer and is usually low grade. This cancer can simultaneously have some DCIS and some invasive elements. This breast cancer is found mixed with other types of carcinomas like tubular breast carcinoma and comedocarcinoma. Overall only 20% of these cancers are pure (cribriform invasive cancer forms 90%), 30% are largely cribriform with over 50% cribriform growth and 50% mixed cribriform cancers.
Just like any other carcinoma, there may be no obvious symptoms initially in this type of carcinoma in most of the patients. You may also be not able to feel a lump during a physical breast examination. But yes in an imaging test this dense lump mass will show. Over time a few of these cancerous cells may assume a growth big enough to be felt physically and may also make the breast tender to touch.
Predominantly, there is no physical evidence of a lump or dense mass of tissue in this type of cancer. Thus is followed up by imaging tests – mammography. In mammographic testing also there are no characteristic findings to detect cribriform cancer but a seasoned radiologist can make out distinctly cribriform from tubu;ar breast carcinoma which also look like this cancer.
Thus the other imaging test ultrasound is done which is quite clear for cribriform detection as compared to mammography which would only how a dense mass. On unltrasound the occult tumor in mammogram can be easily detected. It shows to be a mass quite irregular in shape and boundary. The last conclusive test is a tissue biopsy which can be an incision, open or a sentinel biopsy.