DCIS Is Not Invasive Breast Cancer, and Might Not Require Surgery

Ductal Carcinoma In-Situ or DCIS is not cancer. Though people might call it cancer, it is “abnormal cells” or “pre-cancer.” If you or someone you know has received a diagnosis of DCIS, please read the two articles linked below before undergoing therapy of any kind.

While you’re at it, please read the article “Slash breast cancer relapse, slash breast cancer risk? There are many options for a breast cancer diagnosis.

Slash breast cancer relapse, slash breast cancer risk?

DCIS Is Not Invasive Breast Cancer, and Might Not Require Surgery

Tens of thousands of women are having surgery – sometimes even having both breasts removed – to treat a condition that is unlikely to ever become life-threatening.

In fact, a recent study concluded that a small, but growing minority of women with the condition – called ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS – are choosing to undergo a double mastectomy. That’s despite a lack of evidence for any survival benefit over less invasive surgery. But the fear is little surprise, given what’s unknown about DCIS.

Shelley Hwang

UCSF breast cancer oncologist Shelley Hwang, MD, is bucking this trend toward more invasive treatment. Her clinical research team is investigating whether at least some women with DCIS can safely omit surgery altogether from their treatment. In the course of their studies, the researchers also hope to fill in some of the knowledge gaps surrounding the condition.

DCIS looks like cancer. It generally grows as a small collection of cells lining the breast’s milk ducts. But DCIS cells do not behave in the same way as the cells of an invasive breast tumor – pathologists can tell them apart. Unlike invasive breast cancer cells, DCIS cells do not have the capability to spread and grow in distant parts of the body. And unlike invasive breast cancer, DCIS is not life-threatening.

Unfortunately, women who are diagnosed with DCIS have a higher than average risk of developing invasive breast cancer later – although some never will. As it stands, there is no proven way to predict which women diagnosed with DCIS will eventually develop invasive breast cancer. But because of the elevated risk, surgery to remove DCIS – generally a lumpectomy with radiation, or mastectomy – has become standard treatment. Treatment options are the same as for early-stage invasive breast cancer.

Hwang is exploring to what extent targeted drug treatment with careful follow-up might become a low-risk alternative to surgery for many of these women.

The question is hugely important – DCIS is epidemic. Blame mammography. To detect breast cancer at earlier, more treatable stages, mammography guidelines now call for screening women as young as age 40, and compliance with screening guidelines has increased. When there was less screening, many fewer cases of DCIS were diagnosed.

Can vitamin A turn back the clock on breast cancer?

“A derivative of vitamin A, known as retinoic acid, found abundantly in sweet potato and carrots, helps turn pre-cancer cells back to normal healthy breast cells, which may help explain why some clinical studies have been unable to see a benefit of vitamin A on cancer: the vitamin doesn’t appear to change the course of full-blown cancer, only pre-cancerous cells, and only works at a very narrow dose…”

For more articles like this, click here: http://peoplebeatingcancer.org/search/node/DCIS

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3 comments on “DCIS Is Not Invasive Breast Cancer, and Might Not Require Surgery
  1. demerson says:

    Hi David. I just read your story. Really grateful for your site, your story and all the important information such as this article. I was diagnosed with DCIS 3 years ago and while I did have 3 surgeries (lumpectomies) over 2 years, I chose to forego radiation, tamoxifen and further recommended surgery due to one margin still being "close." I researched like crazy and put all the info I discovered regarding DCIS "overtreatment/overdiagnosis" on a website/blog (www.dcis411.com). I hope to support other women who like me are searching for saner ways to prevent DCIS recurrence/progression. The present system needs much improvement…and change will only happen if WE demand it! Sounds like we are on a very similar path! Keep shining the light! ~ Donna

    • demerson says:

      Donna- I've just checked out dcis411.com.  Excellent site, blog, info. Yes, we are on a similar path.  I have signed up to get your blog posts and hope to follow your progress.  Let me know if there is anything PeopleBeatingCancer can do for you.  Hang in there.

      David Emerson

  2. demerson says:

    Can vitamin A turn back the clock on breast cancer?

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