More than a third of women diagnosed with DCIS (ductal carcinoma in-situ) are having mastectomies-even though the condition is often benign and will never develop into breast cancer.
Around 2,500 women out of more than 8,000 diagnosed with DCIS had one or both breasts removed, a new study has found. Of these, at least 49 per cent were unnecessary procedures.
Researchers from the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh say they were shocked by their findings, and by the variation in treatment and approach at different hospitals. Thousands of women are being given the wrong treatment, and are having traumatic and disfiguring surgery that is unnecessary.
Around 5,000 new cases of DCIS are detected every year in the UK.
A study last year discovered that the way DCIS is explained by the cancer specialist determined the treatment. If it was wrongly described as aggressive breast cancer, women opt for mastectomy; however, when it is more correctly defined as a pre-cancerous condition that may never develop into cancer, most women opt for a non-surgical approach, or 'watchful waiting', where they have regularly check-ups.
(Sources: European Breast Cancer Conference, Glasgow, March 20, 2014; JAMA Internal Medicine, 2013; doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.8405)