Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a non-invasive breast cancer. In DCIS, the abnormal cells are contained in the milk ducts. It is called “in situ” (which means "in place") because the cells have not left the milk ducts to invade nearby breast tissue. DCIS is also called intraductal (within the milk ducts) carcinoma. You may also hear the terms “pre-invasive” or “pre-cancerous” to describe DCIS.
DCIS is non-invasive, but without treatment, the abnormal cells could turn into invasive cancer over time. Left untreated, about 20 to 30 percent of low grade DCIS will progress to invasive breast cancer . Higher grade DCIS may be more likely to turn into invasive cancer if left untreated.
At this time, health care providers cannot predict which cases of DCIS will progress to invasive breast cancer and which will not. Because DCIS might turn into invasive breast cancer, almost every case of DCIS is treated.
Surgery (with or without radiation therapy) is recommended for the treatment of all DCIS. Prognosis is usually excellent.
Read our perspective on DCIS (March 2013).*
Although the exact treatment for DCIS varies from person to person, guidelines help ensure quality care. These guidelines are based on the latest research and the consensus of experts. The National Comprehensive Care Network (NCCN) and American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) are two respected organizations that regularly update and post their guidelines online. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) also has overviews of treatment options.
Treatment will reduce the chance of getting invasive breast cancer. Treatment for ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) usually involves surgery with or without radiation therapy. After surgery and radiation therapy, some women may take tamoxifen, a hormone therapy. The type of DCIS you have will guide the treatment plan.
Learn more about surgery options and hormone therapy for DCIS.
After treatment for ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) there is still a small chance DCIS could recur (return) or invasive breast cancer could develop. These risks are higher with lumpectomy (also called breast conserving surgery) plus radiation therapy than with mastectomy .
However, overall survival is the same after either treatment [2,11]. With close follow-up, invasive breast cancer is usually caught early and can be treated successfully.
In 2013, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a set of recommendations (below) on improving cancer care in the U.S. The report Delivering High-Quality Cancer Care: Charting a New Course for a System in Crisis recommends improvements to fix shortcomings that add cost and burden to cancer care. Susan G. Komen® was one of 13 organizations sponsoring this study.
The report identified key ways to improve quality of care:
Read the full report.
*Please note, the information provided within Komen Perspectives articles is only current as of the date of posting. Therefore, some information may be out of date at this time.
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