What Are the Treatment Options for DCIS?


Quick Answer

Doctors treat most cases of ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS, with lumpectomies and radiation therapy, and in some cases with mastectomies, states Mayo Clinic. Doctors who perform lumpectomies may also prescribe the drug tamoxifen to reduce the chances of recurrences.

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Full Answer

Ductal carcinoma in situ occurs in the milk duct of the breast, and it is a noninvasive cancer if doctors treat it effectively, notes Mayo Clinic. Lumpectomies are procedures in which surgeons remove the ductal carcinoma in situ and some of the healthy tissue surrounding it, allowing women to keep part of their breasts. Women who have lumpectomies normally also have courses of radiation therapy, in which high-energy beams kill abnormal cells. Doctors recommend radiation therapy to reduce the chances of a recurrence of cancer, though it may not be necessary for those who had small areas of abnormal tissues that were completely removed during surgery.

Tamoxifen is a medication that blocks estrogen from fueling breast cancer cells, and while it is not a treatment for ductal carcinoma in situ on its own, doctors may prescribe it decrease the chances of future cancer cell growth, according to Mayo Clinic. Women who have large or multiple areas of ductal carcinoma in situ, or who cannot have or don't want radiation therapy may choose to have mastectomies, in which doctors remove the entire breast, and in some cases lymph nodes under the arms.

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