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Big Study Raises Questions about Best Treatment for DCIS

Ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS, poses a dilemma for doctors and patients: to treat or not to treat? What treatment offers the best outcome?
Big Study Raises Questions about Best Treatment for DCIS
Breast cancer, dense breast, breast imaging, mammogram

New data published in JAMA Oncology raise questions about the best way to treat a breast condition called ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS. About 60,000 women in the US are diagnosed with this each year on the basis of mammography.

Is DCIS Stage 0 or No Cancer at All?

DCIS is sometimes referred to as Stage 0 breast cancer, but there is debate about whether these abnormal cells lining a milk duct in the breast should be considered cancer at all.

The research used 20 years of follow-up data on more than 100,000 women diagnosed with DCIS between 1988 and 2011. Many of these women had been treated with lumpectomies. Others got mastectomies or radiation.

No Difference in Survival Based on Treatment:

The method of treatment did not make any difference in the likelihood that a woman diagnosed with DCIS would later die of breast cancer. Just over 3 percent of the women had died of breast cancer after 20 years regardless of treatment.

Some Women Were at Much Higher Risk:

Women under 35 at the age of diagnosis with DCIS were 17 times more likely than women without such a diagnosis to die of breast cancer within 10 years. African American women were also more than twice as likely to die of breast cancer after a diagnosis of DCIS than women in the general population. Studies are needed to determine if treatment can lower breast cancer mortality rates in women diagnosed with DCIS.

JAMA Oncology, online, Aug. 20, 2015

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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