What Is the Survival Rate of Ductal Carcinoma in Situ? Stages

Medically Reviewed on 3/15/2022
ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
The five-year survival rate of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), also known as stage 0 breast cancer, is over 98 percent.

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is the earliest form of breast cancer and appears in the inner lining of breast ducts. The term in situ means that the cancer cells have not spread outside the breast duct to the surrounding tissue. Thus, survival rates are higher in this type of carcinoma. The disease can be controlled with appropriate treatment, and the outcome is usually excellent.

The five-year survival rate of people diagnosed with DCIS is over 98 percent. This means that over 98 percent of patients who are diagnosed with this cancer survive at least five years after their initial diagnosis.

There are different stages of cancer using Roman numerals from 0 (zero) to IV (four). Stage 0 indicates that cancer is in its initial stages and the survival rate is maximum, whereas cancer in stage IV is in its final stages and survival chances are less. To determine the stage of a tumor, the doctor might assess the original tumor (the primary tumor) and determine its size, location, and spread to another location (metastasis).

DCIS is always considered stage 0 and, hence, can be treated successfully with appropriate treatment. However, in some cases, the tumor can be of any size and may be found within several milk ducts inside the breast.

Although DCIS doesn’t pose any risk, it can turn invasive and spread to other tissues at any time.

What is ductal carcinoma in situ?

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a non-invasive type of breast cancer found only within the milk ducts of the breast. Milk ducts are tubes that transport milk from the lobes to the nipple openings during breastfeeding. These cells have not spread to the surrounding breast tissue and cannot spread elsewhere in the body.

DCIS is not life-threatening but has the potential to turn invasive.

Other names for DCIS include:

  • Stage 0 cancer
  • Noninvasive cancer
  • Preinvasive cancer

Around 60,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with DCIS every year, which accounts for 20 percent of all new breast cancer diagnoses.

What’s the most effective treatment of DCIS?

Surgery is typically the first choice of treatment for ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS).

There are two types of surgery commonly recommended for DCIS:

  1. Lumpectomy: This is a less-invasive option where the surgeon removes the DCIS site and some surrounding healthy tissue. Doctors mostly recommend lumpectomy followed by other treatments.
  2. Mastectomy: It involves removal of the entire breast when DCIS covers a large area of the breast and appears at multiple spots in the breast.

Both of these surgeries guarantee excellent survival rates.

Although DCIS isn’t life-threatening, there are high chances for cancer recurrence. The idea of surgery is usually rejected when the risks outweigh the benefits. Surgery should be generally avoided in older people and those who have medical conditions that can prevent the success of the surgery.

What are other treatment options for DCIS?

For people who underwent a mastectomy, the risk of cancer recurrence is rare. Hence, they may not require additional treatments.

However, for people who have had a lumpectomy, the recurrence rate is higher and need additional therapy such as:

  • Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy destroys cancer cells by using high-energy radiation such as X-rays.
  • Hormone therapy: If ductal carcinoma in situ cells shows the presence of estrogen receptors, hormone therapy is indicated. Tamoxifen is a hormone-blocking drug that blocks estrogen action on the estrogen receptors.


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Medically Reviewed on 3/15/2022
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