Current and future diagnostic and treatment strategies for patients with invasive lobular breast cancer

K. Van Baelen, T. Geukens, M. Maetens, V. Tjan-Heijnen, C. J. Lord, S. Linn, F. C. Bidard, F. Richard, W. W. Yang, R. E. Steele, S. J. Pettitt, C. Van Ongeval, M. De Schepper, E. Isnaldi, I. Nevelsteen, A. Smeets, K. Punie, L. Voorwerk, H. Wildiers, G. FlorisA. Vincent-Salomon, P. W.B. Derksen, P. Neven, E. Senkus, E. Sawyer, M. Kok, C. Desmedt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Invasive lobular breast cancer (ILC) is the second most common type of breast cancer after invasive breast cancer of no special type (NST), representing up to 15% of all breast cancers. Design: Latest data on ILC are presented, focusing on diagnosis, molecular make-up according to the European Society for Medical Oncology Scale for Clinical Actionability of molecular Targets (ESCAT) guidelines, treatment in the early and metastatic setting and ILC-focused clinical trials. Results: At the imaging level, magnetic resonance imaging-based and novel positron emission tomography/computed tomography-based techniques can overcome the limitations of currently used imaging techniques for diagnosing ILC. At the pathology level, E-cadherin immunohistochemistry could help improving inter-pathologist agreement. The majority of patients with ILC do not seem to benefit as much from (neo-)adjuvant chemotherapy as patients with NST, although chemotherapy might be required in a subset of high-risk patients. No differences in treatment efficacy are seen for anti-human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) therapies in the adjuvant setting and cyclin-dependent kinases 4 and 6 inhibitors in the metastatic setting. The clinical utility of the commercially available prognostic gene expression-based tests is unclear for patients with ILC. Several ESCAT alterations differ in frequency between ILC and NST. Germline BRCA1 and PALB2 alterations are less frequent in patients with ILC, while germline CDH1 (gene coding for E-cadherin) alterations are more frequent in patients with ILC. Somatic HER2 mutations are more frequent in ILC, especially in metastases (15% ILC versus 5% NST). A high tumour mutational burden, relevant for immune checkpoint inhibition, is more frequent in ILC metastases (16%) than in NST metastases (5%). Tumours with somatic inactivating CDH1 mutations may be vulnerable for treatment with ROS1 inhibitors, a concept currently investigated in early and metastatic ILC. Conclusion: ILC is a unique malignancy based on its pathological and biological features leading to differences in diagnosis as well as in treatment response, resistance and targets as compared to NST.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)769-785
Number of pages17
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • clinical management
  • ESCAT alterations
  • imaging
  • invasive lobular breast cancer
  • ongoing trials
  • treatment strategies


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