Author, teacher, writer, director and radio programmer Tahira Kashyap took to Instagram to reveal that she is diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS). The condition is localised to her right breast with high grade malignant cells.
She went on to explain that it is also known as a stage 0 cancer or a pre-cancerous stage, with cancer cells multiplying in a contained area.
What is DCIS?
Sometimes the cells lining the milk ducts in the breast start multiplying more than they should, thereby becoming cancerous. That condition is given the term DCIS. It is marked by the localised nature of the cells and their lack of spreading to the adjacent breast tissue, according to Cancer.org.
This is also called non-invasive cancer, which means it has not spread to the adjoining tissue, and is not life-threatening. However, it does mean that there is an increased chance of developing invasive breast cancer, points out BreastCancer.org, more than someone who has never experienced it.
Dr Mohit Agrawal, oncologist at Fortis, New Delhi, defines DCIS in the following manner:
"DCIS is a non-invasive condition in which abnormal cells are found in the lining of a breast duct. The abnormal cells have not spread outside the duct to other tissues in the breast. In some cases, DCIS may become invasive cancer and spread to other tissues."
Dr Pramod Kumar Julka, oncologist at Max Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi, adds further says that it “may lead to invasive tumor in the breast if left unattended”.
Symptoms of DCIS
The symptoms of DCIS are not a lot, but they can sometimes include a lump on the breast or blood discharge from the nipple, says Mayo Clinic.
Dr Julka says that “DCIS is mostly asymptomatic, but sometimes retraction of nipple occurs.”
Dr Agrawal agrees and adds:
"It is usually asymptomatic. In a few cases, DCIS may cause a lump or thickening in or near the breast or under the arm. A change in the size or shape of the breast may also be visible. Nipple discharge or nipple tenderness or nipple inversion can happen sometimes. Other changes may include ridges or pitting of the breast, a change in the skin of the breast, areola. Other symptoms may include swelling, redness or scaliness."
A mammogram often suffices in detecting it.
What After DCIS?
There are primarily two simple modes of treating a DCIS.
i) Breast Conserving Surgery (BCS): This procedure is marked by the removal of the tumour and some adjacent tissue. The rest of the breast is left intact. BCS is often followed by radiation therapy.
"BCS or mastectomy, with or without additional radiation therapy or tamoxifen, is the recommended treatment for DCIS by the National Cancer Institute. If BCS is used, it is often combined with radiation therapy. There might also be some hormonal therapy if the cells show estrogen receptor positivity. Chemotherapy is not needed for DCIS since the disease is non-invasive." - Dr Mohit Agrawal
ii) Mastectomy: If DCIS has spread over a large area of the breast, it is removed entirely and this breast removal surgery is called mastectomy. A mastectomy is performed if DCIS has occurred in several places and a simple BCS won’t remove it entirely. It’s often followed by breast reconstruction.
How Can We Safeguard Ourselves Against DCIS?
Get a regular check up done. Doctor Jhulka recommends regular self-examination for anyone over the age of 20 years. Examination by a physician from 30 years of age, followed by ultrasounds/mammograms after age of 40 in case of positive family history.
"One must get a regular check-up done, especially those who have a family history of cancer, and those who are obese." - Dr Pramod Kumar Julka
Dr Agrawal says that 80 percent cases are detected through screening mammogram.
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