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News2013September › Women misled by doctors over DCIS, and having unnecessary surgery › September 2013

Women misled by doctors over DCIS, and having unnecessary surgery

Too many women are having unnecessary surgery because doctors are telling them that they have breast cancer when they don't

Too many women are having unnecessary surgery because doctors are telling them that they have breast cancer when they don't. Instead, the women have DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) which, despite its name, isn't malignant, invasive cancer.
The trouble is that doctors are themselves misunderstanding what DCIS actually is, and are telling women that they have aggressive breast cancer. Not surprisingly, when it's described as that, women opt for surgery to have the breast removed, say researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital.
However, women opt for a less aggressive approach, such as medication or 'watchful waiting', when DCIS is correctly defined as a pre-cancer that may never develop into cancer.
The researchers made the discovery when they tested 394 healthy women with three different definitions of DCIS; when it was correctly described, the women opted for a non-surgical approach.
(Source: JAMA Internal Medicine, 2013; doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.8405).


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