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Friday, October 1, 2010

What is DCIS?

Ductal Carcinoma In Situ

DCIS by definition is a "pre-invasive" carcinoma (cancer). It is confined within the ducts of the breast. There is no risk of metastatic behavior because it is within the ducts. The cure is surgical removal.

There is no known "cause" for DCIS. It is an abnormal cell reproduction. This means that these "cancer" cells don't know when to stop dividing, and eventually there are enough cells to make a lump or swelling called a tumor.

If it's a "benign" tumor, that means that it will not spread into nearby healthy tissue. If it's a "malignant" tumor, then it will invade surrounding healthy tissue and may send cells to other parts of the body.

DCIS lies somewhere in-between benign and malignant since it will sometimes begin as benign and then at some point becomes malignant. No one knows when this will happen.

Todays technology has made it possible for DCIS to be seen on a mammogram, sonogram, or MRI to such an extent that doctors are able to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages and stop it before it becomes malignant. Hopefully, that is the case for me.

What causes DCIS? No one really knows. What they do know is that there is an increased risk of developing breast cancer in families that have a history of breast cancer. Diet may play a role, but that role is still unclear since there is no known specific cause-effect connection between certain foods and DCIS. Too much alcohol, environment, older age, benign breast disease, and some reproductive factors may play a role in the development of DCIS. There is really no single cause, but rather a variety of associations since cancer is a complex interplay of genetics, environment, and lifestyle.

*If any "invasive" cancer cells are found, then the diagnosis is no longer DCIS, but becomes a new diagnosis of Invasive Breast Cancer. This can only be determined 48 hours after surgery when the doctors have had a chance to look more closely at the tumor and the surrounding tissues, and have the results of a sentinel node biopsy.

1. www.breastpathology.info/carcinoma
2. http://dcis.info/

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