Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS) is a type of non-invasive breast cancer where cancerous cells are present but have not spread further than the milk duct of the breast. It is one of the most common breast cancer diagnoses, accounting for 20-25% of all new cases. While DCIS is a non-invasive form of the disease, which typically has a good prognosis, it is important to keep in mind that DCIS can still spread to other parts of the body.
Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) describes cancer cells that have developed in the lining of the milk ducts of the breast but have not spread further into surrounding tissue. Ductal carcinoma in situ does not mean that cancer has actually spread, however, it is considered a pre-cancerous condition that can potentially lead to invasive cancer. DCIS is most often diagnosed with a mammogram or breast ultrasound, which is why regular breast cancer screenings are recommended for women.
DCIS is further classified by type: non-comedo dcis or comedo dcis. Non-comedo dcis is diagnosed in women who show no increased risk factors for developing cancer. Comedo DCIS, on the other hand, is diagnosed in women who display an increased risk of developing cancer, including women with a family history of breast cancer, obesity, or other genetic mutations.
In addition to classifying DCIS by its type, it is also classified by its grade. Grades range from 1 to 3, with 1 being the least aggressive and 3 the most aggressive. A grade 1 diagnosis usually has a better prognosis than a grade 3 diagnosis, as grade 3 DCIS tends to be more aggressive and more likely to spread.
DCIS often has no symptoms, which is why regular breast cancer screenings are so important. When symptoms are present, they are usually related to the mass that may develop due to the cancer cells, such as a lump that can be felt in the breast. Other symptoms can include a change in the size or shape of the breast, an increase in breast density, a change in skin texture, nipple discharge, or a decrease in sensation in the nipple or areola.
Although the specific cause of DCIS is still unknown, there are certain risk factors that can increase the likelihood of developing the condition. These include age (the risk increases with age), being a woman, having a family history of breast cancer, a lack of physical activity, being overweight or obese, using hormone replacement therapy, and a personal history of breast cancer.
The most common way to diagnose DCIS is through routine mammograms or breast ultrasounds. Mammograms can detect abnormal areas of breast tissue that may otherwise be missed during a breast exam. If an abnormal area is found, an MRI may be ordered to determine the extent of the condition.
The main goal of treating DCIS is to prevent the cancer from spreading, so surgical intervention is often the first line of treatment. Surgery can involve removing the DCIS, as well as any surrounding tissue that may be affected, such as the lymph nodes. Radiation therapy may also be recommended, especially in cases where the cancer is more widespread or aggressive. In some cases, hormone therapy may be prescribed to lower the risk of the cancer returning.
DCIS is a treatable form of breast cancer, but the outlook depends on how early it is detected and how it is treated. The best way to lower the risk of developing DCIS is to follow recommended breast cancer screening guidelines. Regular self-exams also help to familiarize women with their breasts and can potentially detect abnormalities, such as lumps or unusual changes in size or shape. A healthy lifestyle with adequate exercise and a nutritious diet can also help reduce the risk of developing DCIS.
In most cases, DCIS has a very good prognosis and is curable. However, it is still important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of the disease, as well as the risk factors, in order to receive timely treatment and lower the risk of the cancer spreading.
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