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This section gives a brief overview of treatment for DCIS.
The aim of treatment is to remove the DCIS and prevent it from developing into an invasive breast cancer.
Making treatment decisions in DCIS can sometimes involve weighing up the benefits, or possible benefits, against the side effects of that treatment.
Surgery| to remove the DCIS is the main treatment. This may be the only treatment you need. Usually all the affected breast tissue along with an area (margin) of normal looking tissue surrounding it is removed. This is called a wide local excision (WLE). Some women may need a second operation to make sure enough of a margin of normal tissue has been removed.
Removing the whole breast (mastectomy) is usually only advised if DCIS is large or affects more than one area of the breast. Breast reconstruction| (making a new breast shape) can be done at the same time or later.
Mastectomy gets rid of the risk of DCIS coming back or of it developing into an invasive cancer. Losing a breast is a distressing experience and may result in emotional and sexual difficulties. But some women may decide that a mastectomy, even for a small area of DCIS, is the right choice for them.
If you have a mastectomy for DCIS, you may be advised to have a test called a sentinel lymph node biopsy .This is to check the lymph nodes in the armpit don’t contain any cancer cells. This would only happen if there’s an area of invasive cancer in the breast that has spread to the lymph nodes.
Your surgeon may advise you to have radiotherapy| after WLE to reduce the risk of DCIS coming back (recurrence) or of an invasive cancer. Risk depends on factors such as the size of the DCIS, its grade and its cell type.
Research trials| are trying to find out if hormonal therapy drugs, such as tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors, help reduce the risk of recurrence or invasive cancer.
Content last reviewed: 1 February 2011
Next planned review: 2013
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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