Women treated for breast cancer precursor ‘live as long as others’

Women over the age of 50 who have been treated for ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) are more likely to be alive ten years later than women who have not, according to new research presented at the European Cancer Congress 2017.

Led by Dr Jelle Wesseling, breast pathologist at the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NCI), the team studied data on almost 10,000 Dutch women who were diagnosed with DCIS between 1989 and 2004.
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DCIS differs from breast cancer because it is non-invasive. This means it can’t spread around the body. However, because it can progress into an invasive breast cancer, which can be life-threatening, it is usually treated with surgery, or surgery and radiation therapy.

According to the researchers, the number of women being diagnosed with DCIS is increasing because it is picked up by breast screening programmes.

They tracked the patients over an average of ten years and compared their death rates with the expected mortality in the general population. They found that women over 50 who had been treated for the condition had a ten per cent lower risk of dying from any cause compared to the general population.

The findings showed that, although women with DCIS have a higher risk of dying from breast cancer, they have an overall slightly lower risk of dying from any cause. The researchers from the Netherlands Cancer Institute say their results should reassure women who are diagnosed with the disease.

Dr Lotte Elshof, research physician and epidemiologist at the NCI, said: “It might seem surprising that this group of women actually has a lower mortality rate than the general population. However, the vast majority would have been diagnosed via breast screening, which suggests they may be health-conscious and well enough to participate in screening.”ADNFCR-2094-ID-801831930-ADNFCR