Management of DCIS

The management of ductal carcinoma in situ of the breast

K A Skinner and M J Silverstein

Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, 1441 Eastlake Avenue MS74, Los Angeles, California 900033, USA

(Requests for offprints should be addressed to K A Skinner)


Ductal carcinoma in situ of the breast is a heterogeneous group of lesions with diverse malignant potential. It is the most rapidly growing subgroup within the breast cancer family with more than 42 000 new cases diagnosed in the United States during 2000.

Most new cases are nonpalpable and discovered mammographically. Treatment is controversial and ranges from excision only, to excision with radiation therapy, to mastectomy. Prospective randomized trials reveal an approximate 50% reduction in local recurrence rate overall with the addition of radiation therapy to excsional surgery, but the published prospective data do not allow the selection subgroups in whom the benefit from radiation therapy is so small that its risks outweigh its benefits.

Nonrandomized single facility series suggest that age, family history, nuclear grade, comedonecrosis, tumor size and margin width are all important factors in predicting local recurrence and that one or more of these factors could be used to select subgroups of patients who do not benefit sufficiently from radiation therapy to merit its use.

When all patients with ductal carcinoma in situ are considered, the overall mortality from breast cancer is extremely low, only about 1-2%. When conservative treatment fails, approximately 50% of all local recurrences are invasive breast cancer. In spite of this, the mortality rate following invasive local recurrence is relatively low, about 12% with eight years of actuarial follow-up.

Genetic changes routinely precede morphologic evidence of malignant transformation. Lessons learned from ongoing basic science research will help us to identify those DCIS lesions that are unlikely to progress and to prevent progression in the rest.

Comparison of Strategies

J Cancer, 7/01

Canada: Clinical Practice Guidelines

Canadian Medical Assoc J, 10/011

Sentinel Node Biopsy for DCIS Pts

Surgery Today, 3/02

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