Treatment overview

The aim of treatment is to remove the DCIS and reduce the risk of it coming back or developing into an invasive breast cancer.

Surgery to remove the DCIS is the main treatment. This may be the only treatment you need. Women are usually treated with an operation that keeps as much of the breast and its shape as possible. This is called a wide local excision (WLE). In certain situations, a woman may be advised to have the whole breast removed (mastectomy). If you have a mastectomy, you’ll usually also have a sentinel lymph node biopsy. This is a way of checking the lymph nodes in the armpit for cancer cells.

You’ll be given the option to have breast reconstruction done at the same time as a mastectomy.

Usually, doctors recommend radiotherapy after WLE to reduce the risk of DCIS coming back or of an invasive breast cancer developing.

If you have ER-positive DCIS, you may have hormonal therapy, although this isn’t routinely used for DCIS.

Not all DCIS will develop into invasive cancer. For some women with low-grade DCIS, there may be an option of having no treatment or having hormonal therapy and then keeping the DCIS under close supervision.

Research trials are being carried out to see whether less treatment is possible. Your doctor or specialist nurse can give you more information about possible research trials.

It can be difficult to make decisions about treatment. It’s important to think about the benefits and disadvantages, and to take your time when deciding.

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