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DCIS Breast Cancer Treatment and Survival Rates

DCIS is the most common form of breast cancer and has a 97% survival rate 10 years after treatment (read more)…

Any woman diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) breast cancer can tell you that there is some initial confusion on what exactly they have. Much of that confusion comes from the fact that this is an early-stage breast cancer that has a standard treatment that allows the vast majority of women to survive a long time.

DCIS is one of the most frequently diagnosed non-invasive breast cancers, accounting for 20 – 25% of all breast cancer cases.  ThIt is e disease is characterized as malignant (ie. bad) epithelial cells that have proliferated in the milk ducts of the breast. These cells remain in the milk ducts and have not spread to other tissues (ie. basement membrane) within the breast. Therefore DCIS is considered a non-invasive breast cancer.

Here are some facts on DCIS as it relates to incidence, treatment, and diagnosis.

Incidence and Diagnosis

  • Approximately 60,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with DCIS, which is about 20 – 25% of all breast cancer cases (1)
    • In the United States, the incidence of DCIS has increased over the past 4 decades due to increasing surveillance (e.g. mammograms)
    • In 1973, 5.83 out of 100,000 women were diagnosed with DCIS, compared to 35.4 out of 100,000 women in 2011
  • DCIS is cancer confined within the milk ducts of the breast and is commonly found on a mammogram
  • It is non-invasive but can become invasive (ie. spreading to surrounding tissue and lymph nodes) if left untreated
  • DCIS is graded (ie. nuclear grading) by your doctor (e.g. pathologist) by taking a sample of breast tissue and examining the cells under a microscope. The grading of DCIS is classified as the following:
    1. High-grade DCIS
    2. Intermediate-grade
    3. Low-grade
  • While high-, intermediate-, and low-grade DCIS can progress to invasive breast cancer, high-grade develops into invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) much quicker than the other two types
  • Despite the importance of grading DCIS, only a small proportion of women in the U.S. are given a grade (less than 2%) (2)

Treatment and Spreading

  • Treating DCIS is controversial as some types of DCIS (low-grade) will not progress to invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) over the patient’s lifetime
  • Despite this, most DCIS patients are usually treated as if they have invasive breast cancer with either surgery (mastectomy) or with breast-conserving surgery (e.g. lumpectomy, or removal of just the tumor, not the entire breast) followed by radiation treatment (note: radiation treatment can be over the entire breast or confined to the area of the lumpectomy, which is known as brachytherapy)
  • DCIS is considered early-stage breast cancer, but some clinicians refer to it as pre-cancerous (which causes confusion for most breast cancer patients)
  • 10 – 30% of DCIS progresses to invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC)

Survival Rates

  • The 10-year survival rate is 97.5% after a DCIS diagnosis. The 15-year survival rate is 96% (4)
  • DCIS can become invasive even after mastectomy resulting in breast cancer in the surrounding tissues

Only a small percentage of women are given a grade for their DCIS. The importance of grading DCIS cannot be understated because it can help you understand the prognosis of the disease. High and intermediate-grade DCIS has a higher likelihood of turning into IDC, therefore an appropriate treatment strategy needs to be adopted to avoid this.

If you are a woman who has been diagnosed with DCIS, do you know the grade of DCIS? Is this something your doctor has discussed with you?

  1. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150603124344.htm
  2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151027074757.htm
  3. Stefanie Weigel, M.D. et al. Digital Mammography Screening: Does Age Influence the Detection Rates of Low-, Intermediate-, and High-Grade Ductal Carcinoma in Situ? Radiology. 2015;278:707.
  4. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170127113024.htm

To your best health!

Hi! I am Dee Grace, PhD and I am a scientist and cancer patient advocate. Our company, The Cancer Detox, helps cancer patients improve their survival outcomes by getting better care from their doctor and adding natural healing to their lifestyle. Relief, healthcare access, and improving quality of life starts here!

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