Emerging Areas in the Treatment of DCIS
DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) is a non-invasive breast cancer. Researchers are studying the best ways to treat DCIS.
Emerging areas in the treatment of DCIS include:
- Ways to predict which cases of DCIS will progress to invasive breast cancer (to target treatment to those who are at higher risk)
- Determining which women may not need radiation therapy after lumpectomy for DCIS
Kornelia Polyak, M.D., Ph.D.
Komen Scientific Advisory Board member
“Understanding why some patients with DCIS develop invasive breast cancer, while others do not, would help our understanding of drivers of tumor progression and the design of more effective therapies.”
Avoiding radiation therapy after lumpectomy for DCIS
Radiation therapy is standard treatment for most people who have lumpectomy for DCIS. It’s usually given every day, 5 days a week, for 3-4 weeks.
Radiation therapy decreases the risk of [6-13]:
- DCIS recurrence (a return of DCIS) in the treated breast
- Invasive breast cancer in the treated breast
However, overall survival is the same for women with DCIS who have lumpectomy with or without whole breast radiation therapy [6-8].
Since radiation therapy after lumpectomy for DCIS doesn’t improve survival, there are questions about the need for all women to get radiation therapy after lumpectomy for DCIS.
Researchers are studying which women might be able to avoid radiation therapy after lumpectomy for DCIS.
Some women, especially those ages 65 and older, with small, low grade DCIS and negative (clean) surgical margins have a low risk of recurrence after lumpectomy. (Margins are negative when there are no cancer cells in the rim of breast tissue surrounding the tumor that was removed during surgery.) Some of these women may choose to avoid radiation therapy altogether, or consider limited radiation therapy, such as partial breast radiation therapy [6,13-14].
Learn more about getting radiation therapy.
Learn about the side effects of radiation therapy.
For a summary of research studies on lumpectomy plus radiation therapy as a treatment for DCIS, visit the Breast Cancer Research Studies section.
Tumor profiling tests and radiation therapy for DCIS
Tumor profiling tests are under study to see if they can help predict the chance DCIS will return as DCIS or invasive breast cancer [21-22]. They test a sample of the tumor (removed during a biopsy or surgery) for a group of genes.
The tumor profiling tests Oncotype DX Breast DCIS Score® and DCISionRT® are under study for use in the treatment of DCIS [21-23]. These tests might help identify which cases of DCIS would benefit most from radiation therapy after lumpectomy, and which women might be treated with lumpectomy alone [23-25].
The Oncotype DX Breast DCIS and DCISionRT tests need further study and aren’t part of standard care.
After discussing the benefits and risks with your health care provider, we encourage you to join a clinical trial if there’s one right for you.
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The Helpline offers breast cancer clinical trial education and support, such as:
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Since our inception in 1982, Komen has provided funding to support research grants that have greatly expanded our knowledge of breast cancer and helped us understand that breast cancer is not just a single disease but many diseases, unique to each individual.
To date, Komen has provided nearly $1.1 billion to researchers in 47 states, the District of Columbia and 24 countries to support research that has resulted in a better understanding of breast cancer; earlier detection; personalized, less invasive treatments for what was once a “one-treatment-fits-all” disease; and improvements in both quality of life and survival rates.
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