After treatment for DCIS

You’ll have regular check-ups after treatment for DCIS with mammograms every year. The risk of DCIS coming back or of an invasive cancer developing is low.

Your treated breast will look and feel different after treatment. Your breast care nurse can tell you what to expect and explain what to look out for, such as lymphoedema. It’s a good idea to know what’s now normal for you. If you notice any changes between check-ups, speak to your cancer specialist or breast care nurse.

After treatment for DCIS, you may have some physical and emotional effects. Surgery can affect your body confidence and you may find that your sex life is affected. Usually, any problems get better over time but talk to your doctor or nurse if you’re having problems. You can also speak to them about what type of contraception is suitable for you now.

Some women choose to make positive changes to their lifestyle. You may want to think about having a well-balanced diet, exercising and reducing stress.

Follow-up after DCIS

After treatment, you’ll have regular check-ups to check both breasts. If you had a mastectomy without reconstruction, you’ll be seen at clinic to have the wound checked and your new prosthesis fitted if you’re having one. Women who had radiotherapy or are taking hormonal therapy may be seen by a cancer specialist to monitor any side effects.

Your check-ups will usually be once a year but this can vary between hospitals. Sometimes instead of routine appointments, women are asked to contact their specialist or breast care nurse if there’s anything they’re worried about. You’ll be shown what to look out for first.

You’ll have yearly mammograms, which will include your unaffected breast, for five years. Even if you had a mastectomy, you’ll still need a yearly mammogram.

It’s also still a good idea to be aware of what’s now normal for you. Your treated breast will feel and look different depending on the treatments you’ve had. Your breast care nurse can tell you what to expect and explain what to look out for.

Your appointments are a good opportunity to talk to your specialist or breast care nurse about any concerns. If you notice any changes in either of your breasts between appointments, contact your specialist or breast care nurse for advice.

If DCIS comes back

After treatment, the risk of DCIS coming back or of an invasive cancer developing is low. If any new problems develop, they’ll usually be picked up very early.

If DCIS comes back or an invasive cancer develops in the same breast, a mastectomy is usually advised. If you haven’t had radiotherapy, it might be possible to remove the area with surgery and then have radiotherapy. Treatment for DCIS that comes back or for an invasive cancer that develops is usually very successful.

After treatment

You’ll probably be keen to get back to the things you did before your DCIS. But you may still be coping with side effects of treatment, such as tiredness.

It’s important to talk about any concerns or questions you have with your specialist and breast care nurse. After treatment you’ll probably want to know what to expect, if there’s anything you should avoid, how to make the most of your health and where to get support.

Effects on your sex life after DCIS

The emotional impact of coping with DCIS and some treatment side effects can reduce your sex drive. Surgery to remove part or all of the breast can affect how you see yourself as a woman. You may feel insecure and worry whether your partner still finds you sexually attractive. Or you may feel anxious about new relationships.

After treatment, partners are often concerned about how to express their love physically and emotionally. They may not have a problem with any changes in your appearance. If you feel there’s awkwardness between you, it can be helpful to try and talk about it.

Cuddles, kisses and massages are affectionate and sensual ways of showing how much you care for someone, even if you don’t feel like having sex. You can wait until you and your partner feel ready – there’s no right or wrong time. If you feel very self-conscious, making love while partly dressed or keeping the lighting low may be better for you. Usually any problems with your sex life gradually get better with time.

Let your doctor or nurse know if you’re having problems with your sex life. They may be able to reassure you about your concerns. If you feel uncomfortable talking to your doctor or nurse, you may want to call our Macmillan Support Line.

Some people may find it helpful to talk to a sex therapist. You can contact a therapist through the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

Because HRT can increase the risk of breast cancer, women with DCIS are usually advised not to take it.

There are other ways in which menopausal symptoms can be treated. If hot flushes are troublesome, low doses of some antidepressants can help. There are also different lubricants and creams that help improve vaginal dryness.


Women who’ve had breast cancer are advised not to take the contraceptive pill or use coils (IUDs) containing hormones as these could encourage breast cancer cells to grow. Your cancer specialist or specialist nurse will give you more advice about this.


Occasionally, women with DCIS have a sentinel lymph node biopsy or have some lymph nodes in the armpit removed by surgery (sampling). After surgery to the lymph nodes, there’s a very small risk of getting lymphoedema (swelling of the arm or hand. This is rare after sentinel lymph node biopsy, and there’s only a small risk after lymph node sampling.

If you have lymphoedema, the following tips may help. If you don’t it’s still a good idea to look after the skin on your hand and arm to help avoid infection and to reduce the risk of lymphoedema.

  • Always protect your arm and hand by wearing gloves when doing DIY or working with animals.
  • Don’t have blood taken from that arm.
  • Use an electric shaver to shave under your arm.
  • Use nail clippers to cut your nails and don’t push back or cut your cuticles; use cream instead.
  • Treat even small grazes and cuts with antiseptic and keep them clean until they heal.
  • See your GP at the first sign of any infection (if the cut is inflamed or feels warm and tender).
  • If you have any swelling in your arm or hand, get it checked by your doctor or nurse straight away.

You can read more about this in our section on lymphoedema.

Lifestyle changes after DCIS – making positive choices

After treatment, some women want to know more about lifestyle changes that can benefit their overall health. This is not to say you didn’t follow a healthy lifestyle before DCIS, but you want to focus more on making the most of your health.

Following a healthy lifestyle can help you feel better and improve your general health. It may lower your risk of some cancers and illnesses such as heart disease, bone thinning (osteoporosis) and diabetes.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle is about making small, achievable changes to the way you live that will improve your health and wellbeing.

A healthy lifestyle can include:
  • having a well-balanced diet
  • getting some exercise
  • reducing stress.

You can choose to make just a few changes or completely change the way you live. It doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Living a healthy lifestyle can sometimes appear to be a lot of hard work and as if you will be denying yourself all of the pleasures in life. Your healthy lifestyle will be individual to you, and what is right for you may not be right for someone else.