DCIS, No Easy Answers

“No Easy Answers,” by Christie Aschwanden, Protomag.com.

A ductal carcinoma in situ diagnosis can spur premature action // Should it be called cancer? // A new name might mean a different approach // Because what if it’s nothing?

The name given to a certain breast condition—ductal carcinoma in situ—contains a word almost everyone finds terrifying: carcinoma. At an NIH conference on the diagnosis and management of DCIS in 2009, a proposal was made to remove that word from the DCIS name in hopes of eliminating fear and stemming a trend of overtreatment. Though no action was taken, the name remains a point of contention among clinicians. The clue to the problem lies in the rest of the name: In situ, Latin for “in place,” implies that the abnormal cells are staying put—at least for the time being. Indeed, in perhaps 85% of cases, they do; the issue is identifying the remaining 15% that will go on to become invasive.

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