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Conundrum Confronts DCIS Breast Cancer Patients

What’s the best procedure for women who have been diagnosed with the type of breast cancer called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)? Should they undergo surgery to remove only the lesion, radiation, mastectomy or just have more frequent mammograms? There doesn’t seem to be a clear answer, and the latest research has given rise to conflicting opinions.

DCIS lesions are found in the milk ducts of the breasts, and are considered to be non-invasive; they tend not to spread beyond these ducts. In fact, some experts have suggested that DCIS not even be considered cancer. But most do, though perhaps an indolent type.

Before mammography screening became common in the 1970s and 80s, only about three percent of breast cancers detected were identified as DCIS, pointed out editorialists Drs. Laura Esserman and Christina Yan, from the University of California, San Francisco. Now, they say, DCIS makes up 20 to 25 percent of cancers detected by screening. Thus, it has become more important to establish clear guidelines for its evaluation and treatment.


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