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Treating Ductal Carcinoma In Situ

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Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a type of breast cancer involving the milk ducts of your breasts. The cancer cells are only found within the ducts and have not spread to other areas of the breast or anywhere else in your body.

It is a type of breast cancer that occurs in 1 in 5 cases of breast cancer.

Each year, 60,000 American women are diagnosed with DCIS, according to the American Cancer Society. In the U.K., Cancer Research UK said that around 4,560 women are diagnosed. (1, 2)

It is the most common form of non-invasive breast cancer. Non-invasive means it hasn’t spread.

Ductal carcinoma in situ is a very early type of cancer and in fact, it doesn’t always spread and it isn’t life threatening. It just means that if you don’t have it treated, you have a higher risk of getting invasive breast cancer in the future.

What are the Symptoms?

There are usually no symptoms. Occasionally a woman may have discharge from her nipples. This early cancer is normally only detected due to the use of mammograms.


The main treatment is surgery. The cancerous material is removed while conserving the rest of the breast, via lumpectomy. Occasionally a mastectomy (removal of the breast) will be done at the woman’s request if she is worried about getting invasive breast cancer.

It may also be done if there are several ducts affected, if DCIS has occurred more than once or if the woman has small breasts, making removal of the cancer and surrounding tissue more difficult. Sometimes surgery is all the treatment that is needed.

You may be offered radiotherapy (radiation treatment) to ensure that any remaining cancer cells are killed. Women who chose this option have a 15 percent chance of a recurrence of DCIS.

If you choose not to have radiotherapy your risk of a reoccurrence is between 25-30 percent. (2)

However, BreastCancerOrg. said that half of the recurrences are DCIS again (not invasive and not life-threatening) and the other half are a more invasive type of breast cancer. (2)

Some oncologists may offer you the drug tamoxifen, although the medical evidence for its benefit is questionable after radiotherapy. Scientists are still studying whether it actually works at preventing a recurrence of DCIS.

Cancer Research UK said, "DCIS from coming back. Some trial results suggest that tamoxifen may not give much extra protection if you've already had radiotherapy." (1)

Alternative Treatment

A study done by Ohio State University in 2010 found that a substance called indole-3-carbinol (13C) found in vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage, blocked breast cancer cells in tests.

The Ohio State Comprehensive Cancer Center discovered a connection between 13C and a molecule called Cdc25A, which is a molecule involved in cell division and multiplication.

Laboratory and animal studies found that 13C prevented this proliferation, thereby blocking the growth of breast cancer cells.

Study leader Xianghong Zou, Ph.D. said, “I3C can have striking effects on cancer cells. A better understanding of this mechanism may lead to the use of this dietary supplement as an effective and safe treatment strategy for cancer and other diseases associated with overexpression of Cdc25A."

This research backed up previous research in the 1990s on 13C and the anti-cancer effect of cruciferous vegetables. (3, 4)

Based on this research, you may be able to decrease your chances of having invasive breast cancer by eating plenty of broccoli and cabbage. The cancer-preventing vegetable compound is also available to buy as a supplement.

For more help and information on this contact the integrative cancer organisation, Cancer Active at: http://www.canceractive.com/index.aspx/


1. DCIS - ductal carcinoma in situ, Cancer Research UK. Web. 16 September 2012.

2. DCIS - Ductal Carcinoma In Situ, BreastCancer.org. Web. 16 September 2012.

3. Indole 3 Carbinol action against breast cancer, Cancer Active. Web. 16 September 2012.

4. Super Substance, Dietary Supplement May Block Cancer Cells. Ohio State University. Web. 17 September 2012.

Joanna is a freelance health writer for The Mother magazine and Suite 101 with a column on infertility, http://infertility.suite101.com/ She has an A grade diploma in Neuro-psychological Immunology, which is the study of how the mind affects the immune system.

Reviewed September 17, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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