Ductal carcinoma in situ: a non-invasive form of breast cancer

You know that it is important to have regular mammogram screenings. Mammograms can detect breast cancer well before you have any symptoms or feel a lump. Early detection offers you the best chance at being cured.

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is breast cancer that develops in the lining of the milk ducts in your breasts. Women who have ductal carcinoma in situ do not usually have any symptoms and do not know they have breast cancer until it is found during a routine mammogram. The good news is that ductal carcinoma in situ does not normally spread beyond the ducts, therefore it is considered a non-invasive cancer and not life-threatening. However, surgery is necessary to remove the tumors.

Treating non-invasive breast cancer

There are two types of ductal carcinoma: non-invasive, or ductal carcinoma in situ, and invasive ductal carcinoma, which means the cancer has spread beyond the milk ducts. If your mammogram shows signs of suspicious cells inside your ducts, your doctor will order a biopsy to determine if the cells are cancerous and if they are invasive or non-invasive.

If you have ductal carcinoma in situ or non-invasive breast cancer, you will need a surgical procedure called lumpectomy to remove the tumor or tumors found in the ducts. During lumpectomy, only the cancerous tumor and a small amount of the surrounding breast tissue is removed. Most women who have ductal carcinoma in situ do not need chemotherapy or radiation. However, depending on the type cancer cells found, your doctor may recommend hormone therapy.

Prevention for the future

Although ductal carcinoma in situ is non life-threatening, women who have ductal carcinoma in situ are at greater risk of having cancer again. It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions on having mammogram screenings so if cancer does return, you have the best chance of finding it early.

To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.