What is Ductal Carcinoma in Situ?
Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is the common type of noninvasive breast cancer. Carcinoma refers to any cancer that begins in the skin or other tissues (including breast tissue) that cover or line the internal organs, and the phrase in situ means “in its original place “.
DCIS is called “non-invasive” because it does not spread beyond the milk duct to other surrounding normal breast tissue. DCIS is not life threatening, but have DCIS can increase the risk of developing invasive breast cancer later. This form of cancer is non-invasive. Studies have shown that many women with DCIS can lead normal lives for years without any treatment. In fact, women with DCIS usually have no idea they are living with this cancer. This is because DCIS patients show no symptoms.
Causes of Ductal Carcinoma in Situ?
The exact causes of DCIS are not yet known. However, some women have a higher risk of developing it. Women with a family history of breast cancer are also susceptible to this condition. People born with defective genes BRAC1 BRAC2 can also suffer from breast cancer. Both genes play a key role in preventing the formation of breast cancer. Therefore, the unwanted change in the genetic structure of BRAC1 and BRAC2 (often inherited from parents) makes a person vulnerable to breast cancer.
Symptoms Ductal Carcinoma in Situ?
Most women with DCIS have no signs or symptoms. However, a small percentage of women with DCIS may have a lump in her breast. DCIS can sometimes produce a fluid discharge from the nipple. The fluid exiting the nozzle may actually appear blood or yellowish pus-like discharge. Wrinkled skin around the area of the breast is another symptom of ductal carcinoma in situ. In other words, the dimples can be seen on the chest and the skin may also appear unusually red and swollen.
Risk factors of DCIS:
What are the factors that increase the chance of DCIS? They are discussed below:
Excessive alcohol consumption and to conceive for the first time after crossing 30 are some of the factors that put women in the risk zone of ductal carcinoma in situ. DCIS is often detected in women 50 years past. Therefore, it can be said that with increasing age also increases the risk of the development of non-invasive cancer. It is also noted that the development of ductal carcinoma in situ is gender bias, since women have a much higher risk of cancer than men.
Another important factor responsible for the development of ductal carcinoma in situ is the hormone replacement therapy (HRT). As we all know, during and after menopause, fluctuations in the levels of progesterone and estrogen is common. These unwanted hormonal changes can trigger a series of physical problems, including hot flashes and vaginal dryness. To combat post-menopausal symptoms, it is often advisable to use HRT. Patients are put on hormone replacement therapy are required to take hormones synthetically prepared in the prescribed dosage. Studies suggest that women who have been taking estrogen as part of HRT treatment, for quite some time (about 5 years) makes are likely to be affected with ductal carcinoma in situ.
Diagnosis for Ductal Carcinoma in Situ:
A test for diagnosing ductal carcinoma in situ involves the use of mammograms. Mammography is a procedure that uses low-dose amplitude X-rays to examine the breast tissue. Microscopic breast changes associated with ductal carcinoma in situ can be easily identified with mammography. Suspicious areas may contain calcium deposits known as microcalcifications, which can be easily detected by X-rays. For further evaluation, your doctor may recommend a breast biopsy. To confirm a suspicion of ductal carcinoma in situ, a breast biopsy is performed in which a small sample of tissue is removed and looked at under a microscope. The biopsy can be done either by using a very small needle or a large needle to remove a sample of breast tissue.
Treatment of Ductal Carcinoma in Situ:
If left untreated, DCIS can progress to invasive cancer that attacks normal cells in breast tissue outside the duct. Although DCIS is not life threatening, a careful medical treatment necessary to cure the disease. Treatment depends on the size of the area affected by breast cancer growth. If the area is small, doctors recommend a lumpectomy, which involves removal of the cancerous tumor and the healthy tissue around it. This is called breast conserving surgery, in which only the area containing the cancer is removed. People who undergo this experience minimal surgery, within one week, can resume their normal daily routine. However, if the cancerous tumor is large or detected in several locations across the chest, doctors tend to perform surgery to remove the breast (mastectomy).
If the doctor determines that cancer cells are estrogen receptor (need estrogen to grow), then a drug, tamoxifen, is administered to prevent these cancer cells absorb the estrogen. The drug also helps to reduce the possibility of developing an aggressive form of cancer in the future.
A point to note is that a new type of breast cancer can occur in people suffering from ductal carcinoma in situ in the past. Experts say there are chances of cancer recurrence in a period of 10 years from the time DCIS is diagnosed.