Understanding DCIS
Breast Cancer (Stage 0)

DCIS breast cancer patient

If you have been recently diagnosed with DCIS, or ductal carcinoma in situ, it is normal for you to feel frightened, overwhelmed or confused. It may help to know that millions of women have been successfully treated for DCIS, with a survival rate approaching 100%.1

Just as every woman is different, every DCIS diagnosis is unique. So, it is important for you to understand as much as you can about your individual disease. Educate yourself about all your treatment options so that you can decide the best course of care for you.

What is DCIS?

DCIS affects an estimated 50,000 women in the U.S. each year2, making it one of the most commonly diagnosed breast conditions. The name refers to abnormal cells in the epithelium, or the lining of the milk ducts (ductal carcinoma). The good news is that these cells are contained within the ducts (in situ) and have not spread to other organs and cause serious disease or death. However, without additional treatment following surgery, DCIS has the potential to evolve into invasive cancer.

DCIS Invasive breast cancer

How is DCIS treated?

Not all cases of DCIS are alike; therefore, there is no single approach to treatment. The first step is usually surgery to remove the DCIS tumor with a lumpectomy (breast-conserving surgery) or a mastectomy (the removal of a breast). Other therapies following surgery may include radiation or hormonal therapy. Because DCIS is non-invasive, chemotherapy is never recommended. Learn more about DCIS Treatment options.

As you consider your treatment plan, it is important to:

Take your time to decide. Making your treatment decision is not urgent, so you can take your time to learn more about your individual disease and weigh your treatment options.

Think about getting a second opinion in order to find a doctor who does not pressure you and with whom you feel comfortable.

Understand that more treatment might not always be the right choice. If your risk is low, additional treatment may not add to your survival rate and yet its side effects can last a lifetime.

Ask about the Oncotype DX Breast DCIS Score test, which reveals the underlying biology of your DCIS by measuring the activity of certain genes. Along with information on your pathology report and other factors, the test result can help determine the risk that your disease will return in the same breast, either as DCIS or as invasive breast cancer, giving you more confidence in your treatment decision.

1 Breast Cancer Mortality After a Diagnosis of Ductal Carcinoma In Situ. Narod et al. JAMA Oncol. 2015;1(7):888-896. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2015.2510
2 American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2015. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2015.