DCIS Recurrence Risk Overestimated by Many Women

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If you've been diagnosed with DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ), the risk of the cancer coming back after surgery is quite low. Still, a study found that many women overestimate their risk of DCIS coming back after surgery.

Research shows that the risk of DCIS coming back is less than 10% after lumpectomy and about 1% after mastectomy.

DCIS may be called "pre-cancer" because the abnormal tissue isn't invasive. DCIS stays inside the milk duct of the breast. But DCIS can become invasive cancer if the abnormal tissue isn't removed. Treatment for DCIS is often a lumpectomy, followed by radiation therapy in many cases. Some women may choose to have a mastectomy to treat DCIS. Doctors may recommend a mastectomy instead of lumpectomy for some women who have DCIS in several locations in the breast or if the DCIS is large.

Global efforts to raise awareness and educate women about breast cancer and risk have been very successful. But sometimes this heightened awareness may make women overestimate their breast cancer risk. This heightened awareness also might be part of the reason why women diagnosed with DCIS tend to overestimate their risk of the DCIS coming back. Still, even though some women are overestimating their risk, the number of women getting screening mammograms after age 40 is going down. This is hard to understand. It's also hard to understand why many women treated for early breast cancer don't always get the appropriate follow-up and screening they should, based on their history.

Visit the breastcancer.org pages on DCIS for more information on diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis.

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