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Cancer Treat Rev. 2000 Apr;26(2):103-25.

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) of the breast: evolving perspectives.

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The Department of Surgery, 251 Hellenic Air Force (HAF) Hospital, Messogion and Katehaki Str, Athens, 115 25, Greece.


Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) of the breast is an early, localized stage of carcinoma in the process of multistep breast carcinogenesis. The incidence of DCIS is increasing, mainly due to screening mammography, which results in diagnosing the disease in an increasing proportion of asymptomatic patients. Consequently, clinicians are being confronted with growing numbers of women who present with DCIS of the breast; thus, the concepts of managing such patients are assuming greater importance. The most common presentation is calcifications on mammography. DCIS is a biologically and morphologically heterogeneous disease. If left untreated, a significant proportion of these tumours will evolve into invasive cancer. However, when appropriately treated, the prognosis of DCIS is excellent. Optimal management of DCIS remains controversial. The goal in the treatment of patients with DCIS is to control local disease and prevent subsequent development of invasive cancer. For several decades, total mastectomy was the treatment of choice for DCIS and it should still be considered the standard of care, to which more conservative forms of treatment must be compared. Mastectomy is associated with a risk for chest wall recurrence of approximately 1%. Axillary lymph node dissection is not routinely recommended in the management of DCIS. However, mastectomy probably represents overtreatment in a substantial number of patients, especially those with small, mammographically detected lesions. Local excision alone has been suggested in carefully selected patients, whilst the rest of the patients undergoing breast-conservation surgery should be treated with breast irradiation. There is evidence that breast-conservation therapy is an effective option in the management of selected patients with DCIS. The use of radiotherapy after lumpectomy significantly decreases the rate of recurrence. Nuclear grade, presence of comedo necrosis, and margin involvement are the most commonly used predictors of the likelihood of recurrence. There is no role for adjuvant chemotherapy in the management of this disease. The role of tamoxifen in the treatment of DCIS is not clearly defined; tamoxifen should be given only in patients enrolled in clinical trials. Following breast-conservation therapy, about 50% of the tumours recur as invasive cancer. Most patients with recurrent disease can be treated effectively, usually by salvage mastectomy, but also in selected cases by breast-conservation therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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