The condition, called ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS, is being diagnosed more often. It accounts for 22 percent of all breast cancer diagnoses and affects about 62,000 women each year. If left untreated, DCIS can progress to invasive breast cancer, which is the most common type of breast cancer diagnosed.
Treatment for DCIS is either mastectomy, which removes the entire breast, or breast-conserving lumpectomy, which removes only the cancerous area, followed by radiation therapy.
In this study, researchers at U-M and William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich., looked at the records of women who had opted for lumpectomy and radiation for DCIS between 1981 and 2003. Of the 513 women studied, only 8 percent developed a recurrence of breast cancer or DCIS.
Of those recurrences, 97 percent were detected by mammography, and 91 percent were diagnosed exclusively by mammography, suggesting that regular follow-up mammograms are a reliable way of detecting any return of cancer after breast-conserving surgery.
"Lumpectomy with radiation is an excellent treatment for DCIS. Women should not feel they need to have mastectomy in order to have a good prognosis. If they follow up with regular mammograms, a recurrence can be detected early before it has had a negative effect on prognosis," says study author Renee Pinsky, M.D., assistant professor of radiology at the University of Michigan Medical School. Pinksy presented the findings May 4, 2006, at the American Roentgen Ray Society annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia.