What Else Do I Need To Know To Understand The Diagnosis Of Ductal Carcinoma in situ?

There are several ways in which DCIS acts differently than invasive breast cancer. One way is that DCIS tends to spread along the breast ducts. As it spreads along the ducts, it can travel into a large portion of the breast through the duct system. Also, DCIS has a tendency to be multifocal. This means that the tumor can be found in more than one part of the breast--in reality, there may be more than one tumor growth in the breast tissue. The multifocal aspect of DCIS very much influences how these tumors are treated.

Spread of DCIS
Spread of DCIS through duct system with multifocal lesions

In contrast, invasive breast cancers are much less likely to be multifocal ( it can happen, but not that often).

Single invasive ductal carcinoma
Single invasive ductal carcinoma

Differences Between DCIS And Invasive Breast Cancer

FeatureDCISInvasive Breast Cancer
Spread to axilary lymph nodesNoOften
Spread to distant organsNoOften
Table 1


The Unwanted Passenger
by Carolyn Vachani, MSN, RN, AOCN
May 19, 2016