How is DCIS breast cancer treated?

Updated: Feb 04, 2021
  • Author: Pavani Chalasani, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: John V Kiluk, MD, FACS  more...
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Currently, the standard treatment of DCIS is surgical resection with or without radiation. Adjuvant radiation and hormonal therapies are often reserved for younger women, patients undergoing lumpectomy, or those with the comedo subtype.

In the United States, approximately 30% of women with DCIS are treated with mastectomy with or without reconstruction, 30% with conservative surgery alone, and 40% with conservative surgery followed by WBRT. ALND or SLND is not routinely recommended for patients with DCIS. Studies have identified metastasis to the ALNs in 10% of patients.

However, an observational study of 108,196 women with DCIS found that although lumpectomy with radiotherapy or mastectomy reduced the risk for invasive recurrence at 10 years, that approach did not reduce breast cancer-specific mortality. [124] The low mortality from DCIS—by 20 years after diagnosis, 3.3% of the study patients had died from breast cancer—has prompted calls for reconsideration of the treatment approach to DCIS. Instead, the current aggressive approach could be reserved for patients with risk factors for death from breast cancer (eg, age younger than 35 years at diagnosis, African-American ethnicity). These patients constitute approximately 20% of DCIS cases. [125]

For the majority of patients with DCIS, other approaches might be considered, such as endocrine therapy with tamoxifen/raloxifene or aromatase inhibitors. Women at lowest risk might simply be followed with observation and prevention strategies such as diet, exercise, alcohol moderation, and avoidance of postmenopausal hormone therapy with progesterone-containing regimens. [125]

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