Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is DCIS detectable through a mammogram?"
I am a 40 year woman. Could a mammogram detect DCIS? My mother had breast cancer and I refuse to get it.
I am very sorry to hear that your mother had breast cancer. This is a very good question. In order to understand the answer, you must understand a few things about breast cancer. DCIS stands for Ductal Carcinoma In-Situ. It is also commonly referred to as intraductal carcinoma, and is the most common breast cancer/pre-cancer in women. Ductal carcinoma is a term that refers to cancer cells that have developed in the milk ducts within women's breasts. The term "in-situ" refers to cancer cells that have not invaded deep, or into surrounding structures or tissues. Thus DCIS is a superficial cancer within the mammary ducts within a breast that has not spread through the duct itself into the surrounding tissues. DCIS does not normally present with a palpable mass, since by definition if a mass has grown large enough to be palpable, it as probably grown beyond the limit of the duct itself and is no longer a carcinoma in-situ. In fact, it is generally detected on screening mammography. Classically the finding on mammography is microcalcification or small specks of calcium. While this finding does not necessarily signify DCIS, it generally raises enough suspicion pending the clinical picture to warrant a breast biopsy. This is definitely a question that you should discuss with your physician. I hope this helps.