Ductal carcinoma in situ treatment can be highly effective. Because this cancer is noninvasive, it’s often possible to remove all of the cancerous cells from the body during a single surgery. Many patients opt for a traditional lumpectomy, in which a surgeon removes all of the cancerous cells but leaves the majority of the breast intact. However, some patients choose a mastectomy (removal of the entire breast) for additional peace of mind.
Depending on the type of surgery a patient chooses, additional treatments might be recommended to help reduce the risk of the cancer coming back in the future. For example, more extensive treatments might be recommended for patients whose cancers are exceptionally large or high-grade, or for younger patients who have a greater risk of experiencing recurrences during their lifetimes. Post-operative treatment options include:
- External beam radiation therapy, in which high-energy beams are delivered to an entire breast (or a smaller, carefully targeted part of the breast) from an external machine
- Internal partial-breast irradiation, in which radioactive implants are inserted directly into a breast to deliver ionizing radiation to a more limited area, then removed after several weeks
- Tamoxifen, a medication that can attach itself to the receptors on hormone-receptive breast cancer cells, preventing the cells from receiving growth signals.
- Aromatase inhibitors, another form of hormonal therapy that can help reduce the amount of estrogen produced by a woman’s body and potentially reduce the risk of a recurrence
Even though many cases of ductal carcinoma in situ will not develop into an invasive cancer, treatment is still necessary for essentially every patient. That’s because there is not yet a reliable way to determine which cases will eventually progress into a more advanced-stage cancer and which will stay confined to the milk ducts. Until such a test is developed, prompt and proactive treatment is the best approach for all patients.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, we offer a wide range of ductal carcinoma in situ treatment options. This includes surgery to remove cancerous cells from a breast, as well as radiation therapy and hormone therapy to destroy residual cells. And, through volunteer participation in our clinical trials, patients can also access some of the newest and most promising therapies before they are widely available in other settings.
At Moffitt, each patient’s treatment plan is designed by a collaborative, multispecialty team of oncologists and other cancer experts, with options carefully selected based on the potential outcomes and likely impact on the patient’s quality of life. Reconstructive surgeries, integrative medicine services and other supportive options are also provided as part of our commitment to comprehensive care.