Women diagnosed with DCIS or stage 0 of breast cancer may not die and often treatment is necessary, says a new study.
Researchers studied more than 100,000 women diagnosed with DCIS- ductal carcinoma in situ or stage 0 breast cancer for 20 years. They found that though they may not be eliminated from the risk of developing breast cancer in 10 years, about 97% of women did not die from breast cancer after undergoing treatment.
According to the American Cancer Society about 60,000 women are diagnosed with DCIS each year. It is non-invasive and is located only in the milk ducts of the breast.
The study was published in the JAMA Oncology
journal. It reignited a debate as to whether or not DCIS qualifies as cancer, and encouraged doctors to research the risks of DCIS more to determine the best treatment options for patients.
Authors of the study argue DCIS should be considered cancer and should be treated as such, while others say aggressive treatment may not be necessary.
Steven Narod, the lead author of the study and a researcher at the Women's College Research Institute in Toronto, said, "3% of women who died over the 20 years passed away after the DCIS spread throughout their bodies before the lump in their breasts was removed."
"If this can spread prior to the removal and kill you, that's cancer. If that's not cancer, I don't know what is," said Narod.
Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society, told he believes DCIS does not qualify as cancer, and treatment is often unnecessary for women with it. He said a third of doctors believe DCIS is not cancer, a third believe it's pre-cancer and another third believe it's cancer.
Doctors use mammograms to diagnose women with DCIS. Brawley said the number of women with this diagnosis has grown since the 1970s because of the development of new technology used for mammograms.
The study also found death rates as a result of DCIS were twice as high for women under 35 when diagnosed and African- American women. These rates, however, were still lower than those for women with more invasive stages of breast cancer.