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Breast Cancer

Atypia bordering on DCIS

08/04/2008

Question:

I had a surgical biopsy because of my microcalcifications on my breasts. The result was atypia bordering on DCIS. The doctor recomended tamoxifen just in case. I have more calcificartions on my left breast now and I just had a needle biopsy. What does one do when there is what my doctor called possibly precancerous situation. What does it mean pre-cancer. Are there statistics that prove that it changes into cancer? When I asked flatly, did I have a Cancer. I was told NO. So why i am always a suspect. Please help.

Answer:

Precancer means one of 2 things.  The problem can become a cancer if it is left for a long enough time in your breast and/or it places you at a higher risk for getting breast cancer even if it is removed.  Atypia bordering on DCIS can do both - become a cancer if left in your breast and it does increase your risk for getting cancer 4-5 fold even if it is removed. 

This does not mean that you will get cancer for certain, however.  Tamoxifen has been shown to decrease breast cancer risk by almost 50%.  Your baseline risk is not 100%, however, so it won't decrease your risk from 100% down to 50%.  It is not possible to calculate your risk based on the information given, but as an example, if your risk was calculated to be 20%, then tamoxifen will decrease it to about 10%. 

You should consider making an appointment with your doctor to obtain more information.  If he/she is unable to explain your risks to you, then consider a second opinion.

For more information:

Go to the Breast Cancer health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Jean T Stevenson, MD, FACS Jean T Stevenson, MD, FACS
Associate Professor of Surgery
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University