What is ductal carcinoma?

Ductal carcinoma is breast cancer that begins in the milk ducts. When this type of breast cancer is confined to the ducts, it is called ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS. When the tumor has spread to the surrounding breast tissue, it is called invasive ductal carcinoma, or IDC. DCIS may or may not become IDC.

DCIS is the most common type of noninvasive breast cancer, with about 60,000 new cases in the United States each year. About 1 in every 5 new breast cancer cases is ductal carcinoma in situ.

Women with DCIS are at higher risk for having cancer return following treatment, although the chance of a recurrence is under 30%. Most recurrences occur within 5 to 10 years after the initial diagnosis, and may be invasive or noninvasive. DCIS also carries a heightened risk for developing a new breast cancer in the other breast. A recurrence of DCIS is not life threatening, but will require additional treatment.

The type of therapy selected may affect the likelihood of recurrence. Treating ductal carcinoma in situ with a lumpectomy (breast-conserving surgery) without radiation therapy carries a 25–35% chance of recurrence. Adding radiation therapy to the treatment decreases this risk to approximately 15%. Currently, the long-term survival rate for women with DCIS is nearly 100%.

DCIS is divided into several subtypes, mainly according to the appearance of the tumor. These subtypes include micropapillary, papillary, solid, cribriform and comedo.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.