While not technically cancer, being diagnosed with DCIS or 'stage 0 breast cancer' can increase the risk of developing another cancer.
For a lot of women, being diagnosed with breast cancer is always terrifying. However, if you’ve been diagnosed with DCIS or ‘stage 0 breast cancer,’ then there’s a high probability that you will be cured.
What exactly is DCIS or ‘stage 0 breast cancer?’
Technically, DCIS or ductal carcinoma in situ, isn’t a type of cancer. What it is is when one of the milk ducts in the breast starts to mutate and multiplies to become cancer cells.
Now, what makes DCIS different from full-blown breast cancer is that it’s confined to the milk duct and doesn’t spread to the entire breast. That’s why it’s also sometimes called ‘stage 0 breast cancer.’
Dr. Marleen Meyers, a medical oncologist, and director of the Perlmutter Cancer Center Survivorship Program at NYU Langone Health shares, “I make sure to tell patients that, even though DCIS has the word ‘carcinoma’ in it, it’s not actually cancer. In order for something to be cancer, it has to be able to spread and grow unabated.”
“But in the duct, it’s like being in a small tube or straw, and it usually can’t spread anywhere,” she adds.
However, this doesn’t mean that DCIS doesn’t have any risks. It’s still important to go to a doctor to get treatment since DCIS can increase the risk of a person having cancer.
Early detection is important
Thankfully, DCIS can be seen through a routine mammogram.
Mammograms can find a cluster of cells with abnormal shapes called a calcification, and a biopsy is done to check if the mass is cancerous or not.
Sometimes, DCIS can grow large that it can form a noticeable lump. A condition called Paget’s disease which causes the skin around the nipple to become thick and dry can also mean that a woman has DCIS. Unusual discharge coming from the nipple is another sign of DCIS.
Can it be treated?
Thankfully, DCIS can now be treated successfully with modern medicine, and the success rate is almost 100%. In a study conducted among patients that were diagnosed with DCIS, only 3% of the patients died from breast cancer, which is similar to the fatality rate of breast cancer in the general population.
Early detection is very important when it comes to DCIS, as the sooner it can be detected, the sooner treatment can begin. Which is why it’s important for women to regularly check their breasts for any lumps, as well as have a yearly checkup.
After a DCIS diagnosis, however, the chances that a person will have cancer can significantly increase, so it’s important to lead a healthy lifestyle in order to lower the risk of getting cancer.