31 Days of “Little Known” FACTS — For Breast Cancer Awareness Month — Day 13 — Autopsy Studies Find High % of DCIS

Did you know…

A review of autopsy records showed that somewhere between 9% and 15% of women have undetected DCIS at death (Welch, 1997). This supports the idea that a proportion of DCIS occurrences will not progress into invasive cancer or become life-threatening. National Breast Cancer Coalition

Conclusion: “Our systematic review in ten countries over six decades found that incidental detection of cancer in situ and breast cancer precursors is common in women not known to have breast disease during life. The large prevalence pool of undetected cancer in-situ and atypical hyperplasia in these autopsy studies suggests screening programs should be cautious about introducing more sensitive tests that may increase detection of these lesions. – Prevalence of incidental breast cancer and precursor lesions in autopsy studies: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Autopsy studies concluded: A substantial reservoir of DCIS is undetected during life. How hard pathologists look for the disease and, perhaps, their threshold for making the diagnosis are potentially important factors in determining how many cases of DCIS are diagnosed. – Using Autopsy Series To Estimate the Disease “Reservoir” for Ductal Carcinoma in Situ of the Breast: How Much More Breast Cancer Can We Find?

“Autopsy studies have examined the breast tissue of women who had never been diagnosed with breast cancer and found that many cases of DCIS had gone undetected. At least some of the lesions may go away on their own, though it’s not clear how or even whether that happens.” – No Easy Answers

The majority of DCIS lesions found are detected by screening, as many DCIS lesions do not come with symptoms, but do contain calcifications that can be seen upon mammography. Obviously, DCIS lesions may be occult by mammography or the diameter of the area containing calcifications underestimates the extent of DCIS [25], [26]. This is also illustrated by the much higher prevalence of DCIS (7–39%) found in autopsy studies concerning the age group for which population-based screening programs are in place, whereas in screening and clinical practice (INVASIVE) breast cancer was diagnosed in only 1% of women within a similar age range [21], [27]. – Finding the balance between over- and under-treatment of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)

About Donna Pinto

I was born and raised in New Jersey and moved to the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles when I was 12. I graduated with a BA in Journalism/Advertising from San Diego State University. After a short stint in magazine ad sales in LA, I was offered my dream job working for Club Med. I spent two years working at resorts in Mexico, The Bahamas, The Dominican Republic and Colorado. My husband Glenn & I met while working at Club Med in Ixtapa, Mexico. We returned to "real life/jobs" for three years before we embarked on a two year honeymoon around the world. Together we wrote a book called "When The Travel Bug Bites: Creative Ways to Earn, Save and Stay Abroad." I am also the author of "Cheatnotes on Life: Lessons From The Classroom of Life," a quote book for new graduates. Becoming a mom changed my life and I was fortunate to work part-time from home with many amazing nonprofits. In 2010, a DCIS diagnosis inspired me to an investigation that culminated in creating DCIS 411 and Give Wellness.
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