What types of treatment are available for ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)?

If a biopsy has confirmed that there are cancer cells within the breast, treatment for DCIS includes:

Lumpectomy with radiation after surgery: This is the most common treatment for DCIS. A lumpectomy is surgery that removes all of the DCIS along with a bit of the surrounding healthy breast tissue that borders the cancer growth. This is to make sure that all of the abnormal cancer cells have been removed. With a lumpectomy, the surgeon will leave the majority of the breast intact. The amount of tissue removed depends on the size and location of the DCIS.

Radiation therapy, a common cancer treatment, is a process that typically follows a lumpectomy. It is usually combined with surgery to make sure that all abnormal cells are gone. This treatment also reduces the risk of the cancer coming back.

Mastectomy: This surgery removes the entire breast and is recommended if the DCIS is found in a large area or seen throughout the breast. No radiation therapy follows a mastectomy.

Chemotherapy, or medicine that is used to kill cancer cells throughout the body, is usually not needed to treat DCIS.

Each individual case is different. The patient and doctor will decide what treatment is best for the situation.

What medication(s) treat ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)?

Tamoxifen may be prescribed for woman of all ages who have been treated for DCIS. In those women past menopause, the doctor may prescribe an aromatase inhibitor. These medications help lower the risk of DCIS or another type of cancer developing in either breast. If either is prescribed, it is suggested that these drugs be taken for five years after surgery.

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