DCIS stands for ductal carcinoma in situ. When you have this condition, the cells lining the milk ducts (the channels in the breast that carry milk to the nipple) are cancerous, but stay contained within the ducts without growing through into the surrounding breast tissue. It is important to remember that although DCIS should be treated to prevent it developing into an invasive breast cancer, it is not harmful at this stage.
There are three grades of DCIS: low, intermediate, and high. The grade relates to how the cells look under the microscope, and gives an idea of how quickly the cells may develop into an invasive cancer (or how likely it is that the DCIS will come back after surgery). Low-grade DCIS has the lowest risk of developing into an invasive cancer, and high-grade carries the greatest risk.
The most important part of treatment is the surgical removal of the affected breast tissue, together with an area (margin) of normal breast tissue around it, to ensure that all affected tissue is reomved. This operation is called a wide local excision (WLE).
DCIS does not generally spread to the lymph nodes in the armpit (axilla), but sometimes, if the area of DCIS is large or widespread, the lymph nodes may be removed during the surgery and checked for cancer cells. This is because, for some women, there may be an area of invasive cancer cells within the DCIS which could spread into the lymph nodes.
As with all cancers the concern of it having spread is understandable, but you can hope that your mother is not one among a few who show the spread of cancer from a DCIS.
My wife has just been diagnosed with high-grade DCIS. We are now making arrangements to see a surgeon as soon as possible. I am worried. What will happen if she is "among the few who show the spread of cancer from a DCIS"?. What are the percentages of a successful treatment? Survival rates?
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