Skip to main content
  • Poster presentation
  • Open access
  • Published:

MRI characteristics of lobular carcinoma of the breast


Lobular carcinoma is frequently atypical on conventional imaging. MRI has increasingly been used to evaluate lobular carcinoma in recent years. Our experience has been that lobular MRI findings are also relatively difficult to interpret. In this study we aim to define lobular MRI characteristics to aid preoperative staging accuracy.


This retrospective study included all lobular breast cancers which were subjected to preoperative MRI in our Trust from May 2010 to May 2011. Radiologists blinded to the original MRI reports used a questionnaire based on BIRADS to describe the findings. Final surgical histology was used as the gold standard for comparison. Descriptive statistics were performed on data obtained.


Full imaging and final surgical histology was available for 24 ladies with lobular carcinoma. In 83% (20/24) of cases the MRI tumour morphology was of a mass (19/20 irregular mass). Mass enhancement varied: heterogeneous 50% (10/20), homogeneous 40% (8/20). MRI 3D reconstruction gave the largest measurement most frequently (11/24), but the third post-contrast sequence most frequently (8/24) provided the most accurate tumour measurement. Enhancement curves were type 2 in 15/24 cases. In 21/24 cases the question of MRI multifocality correlated with final surgical histology. A total of 12.5% (3/24) patients had contralateral lesions identified by MRI.


The most common lobular cancer morphology on MRI is an irregular mass with heterogeneous, type 2 enhancement. When compared with surgical histology, the third post-contrast (coronal) sequence gave the most accurate tumour measurement most frequently, with 3D reconstruction providing an overestimate in some cases.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Leaver, A., Bristow, G., Redman, A. et al. MRI characteristics of lobular carcinoma of the breast. Breast Cancer Res 13 (Suppl 1), P41 (2011).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • DOI: