DCIS and LCIS

Updated 
August 31, 2015
Reviewed By: 

In addition to invasive breast cancers, there are two types that are noninvasiveinfo-icon, meaning the cancer cells are contained in the ducts or lobules of the breast.

In ductal carcinoma in situinfo-icon, also called DCISinfo-icon, abnormalinfo-icon cells are found in the lining of the milk ducts, the tubes that carry milk to the nippleinfo-icon. It is also called intraductal carcinomainfo-icon.

Unlike invasive disease, the cancer in DCIS has not broken through the walls of the milk ducts to surrounding healthy breast tissueinfo-icon. DCIS is stageinfo-icon 0, meaning the cancer remains in the area where it began. DCIS is the most common type of in situinfo-icon breast cancer.

Another noninvasive breast cancer is lobular carcinoma in situinfo-icon (LCIS), abnormal cellinfo-icon growth that does not spread beyond the breast’s milk-making glands, or lobules. LCIS is much less common than DCIS. Although LCIS is not considered cancer and is not an immediate threat to your health, it is a markerinfo-icon that you have a higher than average risk of developing breast cancer in either breast in the future.

Diagnosing Noninvasive Breast Cancer

DCISinfo-icon is usually diagnosed through a mammogram and biopsyinfo-icon. But LCIS can be harder to detect.

Because LCIS often doesn’t have microcalcifications, very small pieces of calcium that form in other types of breast cancer cells, it may not show up on a mammograminfo-icon. LCIS is usually diagnosed after you have a biopsy for another reason, such as checking an abnormalinfo-icon breast lump.

If you are diagnosed with LCIS after a needle biopsyinfo-icon, your doctor may recommend a surgical biopsyinfo-icon to make sure you don’t have DCIS or invasive breast cancerinfo-icon.

Treating DCIS

Although not life-threatening, DCISinfo-icon that is not well treated can become invasive breast cancerinfo-icon. Having DCIS can also increase your risk of developing invasive breast cancer later in life. If DCIS is found in addition to an invasive breast cancer diagnosisinfo-icon, you will be treated based on the stageinfo-icon of the invasive cancerinfo-icon.

There is overlap between treatment for DCIS and invasive breast cancer. Your surgeoninfo-icon will talk with you about the type of surgeryinfo-icon that makes most sense for you, based on:

  • The amount of DCIS
  • The locations of DCIS
  • The size of your breast

Your surgeon may recommend a lumpectomy, where only the area of DCIS and a small rim of surrounding tissueinfo-icon are removed. After, you would have radiation therapy. Sometimes, if the area of DCIS is too large or there are several areas of DCIS in different parts of your breast, your surgeon may recommend a mastectomyinfo-icon, removing the entire breast. Radiation therapyinfo-icon is generally not needed after mastectomy for DCIS.

Then you may receive hormonal therapy, like tamoxifeninfo-icon, if the DCIS is hormone receptor-positive.

There are no tests available today that can tell the difference between DCIS that will progress into invasive breast cancer and DCIS that will not. Because of this, it’s possible some women with DCIS get more treatment than they need. Researchers are looking for ways to predict risk of DCIS recurrenceinfo-icon or progressioninfo-icon. Until then, your doctor is likely to recommend you have treatment to protect you from the risk the DCIS will come back or become an invasive breast cancer.

Treating LCIS

LCIS is not an immediate threat to your health. It doesn’t require standard breast cancer treatment, but you may have follow-up visits to watch for signs of invasive breast cancerinfo-icon. Your doctor might also advise that you make lifestyle changes, take medicines or undergo preventiveinfo-icon surgeryinfo-icon to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer.

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