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Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS): The most common type of breast cancer

  • Posted on- Nov 17, 2015
  • 597 Views

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is the presence of abnormal cells inside a milk duct in the breast. It is considered the earliest form of breast cancer. DCIS is noninvasive, meaning it hasn't spread out of the milk duct to invade other parts of the breast. This form of cancer is normally detected during a mammogram procedure which is performed as part of breast cancer screening or when there is another concern with a woman's breast.

While Ductal carcinoma is not life-threatening, it does require treatment to prevent the condition from becoming invasive.

Symptoms and signs of Ductal carcinoma

Ductal carcinoma doesn't cause any signs or symptoms in most cases. However, it can sometimes cause signs and symptoms, such as:


The cancer is normally discovered on a mammogram and appears as small clusters of calcifications that have irregular shapes and sizes. Certain genetic mutations may be responsible for Ductal carcinoma.

Factors that can increase the risk of Ductal carcinoma

Factors that may increase your risk of Ductal carcinoma include:
  • Increasing age
  • History of benign breast disease
  • Family history of breast cancer
  • First pregnancy after age 30
  • Taking combination estrogen-progestin hormone replacement therapy for more than three to five years after menopause
  • Obesity
  • Genetic mutations that increase the risk of breast cancer

Tests and diagnoses for Ductal carcinoma

Tests and diagnoses for Ductal carcinoma include:
  • Breast Imaging: Ductal carcinoma is most often discovered during a mammogram used to screen for breast cancer. You may have a diagnostic mammogram, which takes views at higher magnification from more angles, to take a closer look at the bright white specks.
  • Core needle biopsy: Your doctor will use a hollow needle to remove tissue samples from the suspicious area guided by ultrasound. The sample is then sent to the lab for testing.
  • Stereotactic biopsy: This type of biopsy also involves removing tissue samples with a hollow needle, but with the help of mammogram images.
  • Surgical biopsy: If the results show the presence of Ductal carcinoma, you'll likely be referred to a surgeon for surgically removing a wider area of breast tissue for analysis.

Available treatment for Ductal carcinoma

Treatment for Ductal carcinoma has high success rate by removing the tumor and preventing any recurrence.
  • Lumpectomy: Lumpectomy is surgery to remove the area of Ductal carcinoma and a margin of healthy tissue that surrounds it. Lumpectomy followed by radiation therapy is the most common treatment.
  • Mastectomy: Another option for treating Ductal carcinoma is Mastectomy, which involves removing the breast tissue, skin, areola and nipple, and possibly the underarm lymph nodes. However, this type of treatment is less common because lumpectomy combined with radiation is extremely effective.
  • Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams, like X-rays, to destroy malignant cells. Radiation therapy after lumpectomy minimizes the chance that Ductal carcinoma will recur.
  • Tamoxifen drug: The drug tamoxifen blocks the action of estrogen a hormone that fuels some breast cancer cells and promotes tumor growth to reduce your risk of developing invasive breast cancer. It is successful only against cancers that grow in response to hormones.

After the treatment, make healthy changes to your lifestyle, so you can feel your best. Choose a healthy diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables and whole grains.