Ductal Carcinoma in Situ

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When Treating ‘Stage Zero Breast Cancer,’ Can Less Be More?

By Patti Neighmond and Richard Knox, NPR

Peggy MacDonald of Portland, Ore., chose not to have surgery for DCIS.

Peggy MacDonald of Portland, Ore., chose not to have surgery for DCIS.

 

When Sally O’Neill’s doctor told her she had an early form of cancer in one of her breasts, she didn’t agonize about what she wanted to.

The 42-year-old mother of two young girls wanted a double mastectomy.

In many cases it doesn’t ever progress to invasive cancer, the type that can be life-threatening.
“I decided at that moment that I wanted them both taken off,” says O’Neill, who lives in a suburb of Boston. “There wasn’t a real lot of thought process to it. I always thought, ‘If this happens to me, this is what I’m going to do.’ Because I’m not taking any chances. I want the best possible outcome. I don’t want to do a wait-and-see.”

Today, 10 years later, O’Neill has no regrets about what most people would consider a radical decision. And as it turns out, she was at the leading edge of a trend.

O’Neill had ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS. The number of women who get double mastectomies because of DCIS is small – around one in 16 women (see accompanying chart). But the rate has doubled in the past 10 years. Continue reading