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Cancer Treat Rev. 2008 Oct;34(6):483-97. doi: 10.1016/j.ctrv.2008.03.001. Epub 2008 May 19.

Recent advances and current controversies in the management of DCIS of the breast.

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  • 14th Department of Surgery, ATTIKON Hospital, Athens University, Medical School, Arkadias 19-21, GR-115 26 Athens, Greece.


Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is commonly diagnosed today, mainly due to widespread use of screening mammography. Despite a better understanding of its biological behavior, many issues regarding its optimal management remain controversial. The biological behavior of DCIS has been associated with distinct molecular and histological features (such as expression of COX2, Ki67, c-erbB2, p53 mutation, presence or absence of comedonecrosis, nuclear grade, hormone receptor status, etc.). Recent advances in the diagnosis of DCIS include using magnetic resonance imaging, and the use of stereotactic-guided directional vacuum-assisted biopsy (DVAB). Ductoscopy and ductal lavage have a limited role in the management of DCIS. Surgical treatment of DCIS includes simple local excision to various forms of wider excision (segmental resection or quadrantectomy), or even mastectomy (either simple or skin-sparing). Radiotherapy following breast-conserving surgery significantly reduces local recurrence rates. Axillary lymph node dissection is not required for the management of DCIS; however, during the last decade, sentinel lymph node biopsy is increasingly used to exclude the presence of axillary metastases (when invasive disease is present within the DCIS). This approach has many advantages (including the avoidance of a second surgery if invasive disease is diagnosed within the DCIS) and should be considered when there is an increased probability for the presence of invasive breast cancer within the DCIS. The role of other minimally invasive methods (such as the "therapeutic" application of the DVAB technique, radiofrequency ablation, laser therapy, cryotherapy and brachytherapy) in the management of small DCIS remains unproven. Tamoxifen should be considered in the management of selected patients with DCIS, such as patients with hormone receptor positive DCIS, young patients, and patients without risk factors for potential side effects. Additionally, and controversial, there is evidence that aromatase inhibitors may be better than tamoxifen in the management of DCIS.

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