Breast cancer is a disastrous disease that’s affecting millions of women around the globe. In 2020, it was estimated that over 276,000 cases of invasive breast cancer and 48,000 non-invasive cases of breast cancer were recorded in the US alone. Among the non-invasive breast cancer types is Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a condition where cancer cells develop inside the milk ducts of the breast. This article will help you understand what DCIS breast cancer prognosis is and how to know your odds of developing it.
DCIS Breast Cancer- What Is It?
Ductal Carcinoma In Situ- commonly known as DCIS- is one of the most prevalent types of breast cancer that occurs in the milk ducts of the breast. It is not invasive, meaning it has not yet spread to the surrounding breast tissues. While it is not harmful in its early stages, it can be fatal if left untreated. DCIS accounts for almost 1 in 5 of all breast cancers diagnosed in the US. The condition can occur in any woman at any age but is more common in women above 50 years old.
How does DCIS get diagnosed?
The diagnosis of DCIS breast cancer usually starts with a mammogram. DCIS often appears on a mammogram before it causes any symptoms. A biopsy may also be required to confirm the diagnosis. During a biopsy, a doctor removes a tiny piece of breast tissue and tests it for any signs of cancer cells.
Treatment of DCIS Breast Cancer
Treatment of DCIS breast cancer aims to remove the cancer cells and prevent the cancer from recurring. In most cases, the cancer is removed through surgery, followed by radiation therapy to kill any cancer cells left behind.
What Are The Common Treatments For DCIS?
The common treatments for DCIS are:
- Surgery (Lumpectomy)
- Radiation therapy
- Hormone therapy
Which treatment is right for you?
Your doctor will recommend the best treatment for you based on factors such as the size and location of the cancer, its growth rate, and whether it has spread beyond the milk ducts.
|Lumpectomy||Preserves breast||Requires Radiation Therapy|
|Mastectomy||Effective for all patients||Removal of breast|
|Radiotherapy||Destroys cancer cells||Side effects suchas fatigue and skin hyperpigmentation|
|Hormone Therapy||Stops the growth of cancer cells and reduces the likelihood of recurrence||Can cause hot flashes and vaginal dryness|
Prognosis of DCIS Breast Cancer
Prognosis is the outcome of a disease. DCIS is not necessarily fatal, but early detection, diagnosis, and treatment are crucial to the patient’s outcome. Successful treatment means that there is a low risk of recurrence, implying that the patient has a good prognosis. Below we have compiled a list of possible outcomes and their prognosis.
Low-Risk DCIS is when the cancer cells have not spread beyond the milk ducts. Patients diagnosed with low-risk DCIS have a good prognosis when they receive prompt treatment since the disease is curable at this stage. With successful treatment, the cancer is eradicated, and there is a low risk of recurrence.
Intermediate Risk DCIS
Intermediate Risk DCIS is diagnosed when the cancer cells have spread to the surrounding breast tissues. The prognosis for patients diagnosed with intermediate-risk DCIS is not as favorable as that of low-risk patients because there is a higher risk of recurrence. Treatment must be prompt and aggressive to prevent the recurrence of cancer cells in the breast tissues.
High-Risk DCIS is diagnosed when the cancer cells begin growing and spreading to other areas of the body. Its prognosis is generally not good, and immediate and aggressive treatment is required. High-risk DCIS can be life-threatening and should be treated immediately to prevent further growth and spread of the cancer.
Prevention and Early Detection of DCIS Breast Cancer
Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to breast cancer. Here are some ways of preventing DCIS from occurring or curbing its spread;
Get Regular Screenings
Mammograms can detect breast cancer in its early stages before it begins to cause any symptoms. Women above 50 years old should have annual mammograms to screen for DCIS and other forms of breast cancer.
Know Your Risk Level
Certain factors increase the risk of developing DCIS. Women with a family history of breast cancer or carrying the BRCA gene mutation are at increased risk of developing the condition.
Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle
A healthy lifestyle lowers the risk of developing breast cancer. Exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Limit alcohol consumption and avoid smoking.
Do Breast Exams
Monthly breast exams are crucial in detecting any lumps or changes in the breast. Perform breast exams after your menstrual cycle to check for any changes in your breasts’ texture or appearance.
DCIS breast cancer is one of the most common types of breast cancer affecting millions of women worldwide. The prognosis of the condition depends on several factors, including the stage of cancer, the size and location of the tumor, and whether it has spread outside the milk ducts. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment are crucial in preventing the spread of cancer cells and developing the cancer into a life-threatening condition. Leading a healthy lifestyle, getting regular screenings, and performing monthly self-breast exams can help prevent the occurrence of DCIS breast cancer.
Below are some of the commonly asked questions about DCIS breast cancer prognosis.
What is the survival rate of DCIS breast cancer?
The five-year survival rate for patients diagnosed with DCIS breast cancer is almost 100% with proper treatment.
Can DCIS recur after treatment?
Yes, DCIS can recur after successful treatment. Patients should continue to monitor the breast frequently and undergo routine screenings to detect any recurrence promptly.
How often should I undergo a mammogram?
Women above the age of 50 should undergo annual mammograms. Women with a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors may need to undergo mammograms more frequently.
Who is at risk of developing DCIS breast cancer?
Women above 50 years old, with a family history of breast cancer, or carrying the BRCA gene mutation are more susceptible to developing DCIS breast cancer.
1. American Cancer Society. (2020). Breast Cancer. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer.html
2. National Breast Cancer Foundation. (2021). Understanding Ductal Carcinoma in Situ. https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/ductal-carcinoma-in-situ/
3. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dcis/symptoms-causes/syc-20371863