About 60,000 women were diagnosed with what’s known as noninvasive breast cancer this year. More than 89 percent of the cases were due to ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), “which simply means you have abnormal cells in a milk duct, and they haven’t spread into surrounding tissue, “says Freya Schnabel, M.D., director of breast surgery at the NYU Perimutter Cancer Center in New York.
About 20 to 30 percent of DCIS cases progress to invasive cancer if left untreated, according to the American Cancer Society. Most experts recommend a lumpectomy to remove the abnormal tissue, followed by radiation. “At this point, we don’t have the tools to determine which cases of DCIS will become invasive cancers and which won’t,” explains Otis Brawley, M.D., chief medical officer at the ACS,
But a recent large study in JAMA suggests that radiation is necessary only for those with the highest grade of DCIS–a3–because the cancer is more likely to recur. The study found that the risk of dying from breast cancer was no higher in women with DCIS who had only a lumpectomy rather than a lumpectomy plus radiation.
For hormone-positive DCIS, hormone therapy such as tamoxifen has been found to lower recurrence rates. And note: Doctors don’t generally recommend a preventive mastectomy unless a woman has a breast-cancer causing gene such as BRCA 1
Source: Consumer Reports on Health December 2015
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