Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a type of breast cancer involving the milk ducts of your breasts. The cancer cells are only found within the ducts and have not spread to other areas of the breast or anywhere else in your body.
It is a type of breast cancer that occurs in 1 in 5 cases of breast cancer.
Each year, 60,000 American women are diagnosed with DCIS, according to the American Cancer Society. In the U.K., Cancer Research UK said that around 4,560 women are diagnosed. (1, 2)
It is the most common form of non-invasive breast cancer. Non-invasive means it hasn’t spread.
Ductal carcinoma in situ is a very early type of cancer and in fact, it doesn’t always spread and it isn’t life threatening. It just means that if you don’t have it treated, you have a higher risk of getting invasive breast cancer in the future.
What are the Symptoms?
There are usually no symptoms. Occasionally a woman may have discharge from her nipples. This early cancer is normally only detected due to the use of mammograms.
The main treatment is surgery. The cancerous material is removed while conserving the rest of the breast, via lumpectomy. Occasionally a mastectomy (removal of the breast) will be done at the woman’s request if she is worried about getting invasive breast cancer.
It may also be done if there are several ducts affected, if DCIS has occurred more than once or if the woman has small breasts, making removal of the cancer and surrounding tissue more difficult. Sometimes surgery is all the treatment that is needed.
You may be offered radiotherapy (radiation treatment) to ensure that any remaining cancer cells are killed. Women who chose this option have a 15 percent chance of a recurrence of DCIS.
If you choose not to have radiotherapy your risk of a reoccurrence is between 25-30 percent. (2)
However, BreastCancerOrg. said that half of the recurrences are DCIS again (not invasive and not life-threatening) and the other half are a more invasive type of breast cancer. (2)
Some oncologists may offer you the drug tamoxifen, although the medical evidence for its benefit is questionable after radiotherapy.