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Treatment for a precursor of breast cancer can extend life

A new study has found that women treated for ductal carcinoma in situ, a precursor to breast cancer, live as long as healthy women.

By
Amy Wallace
Researchers in the Netherlands have found that women treated for a certain precursor to breast cancer are as likely to live 10 years beyond treatment as healthy women . Photo by polat/Shutterstock
Researchers in the Netherlands have found that women treated for a certain precursor to breast cancer are as likely to live 10 years beyond treatment as healthy women . Photo by polat/Shutterstock

Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Researchers from the Netherlands Cancer Institute have found that women who get treatment for a condition that is a precursor to breast cancer live as long as healthy women.

The study found that women treated for ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS, are more likely to be alive 10 years after treatment than women without the condition.

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The main reason behind the increase in life expectancy is that DCIS can lead to breast cancer if left untreated.

DCIS is non-invasive and cannot spread throughout the body, but it is treated aggressively with surgery and/or radiation because it can lead to an invasive breast cancer.

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Researchers studied data on 10,000 Dutch women diagnosed with DCIS between 1989 and 2004, following the women for 10 years. Death rates were compared with the general population.

The study found that even though women with DCIS have a higher risk of developing breast cancer, they were at an overall slightly lower risk of death in general. Results showed that women over 50 who were treated for DCIS had a 10 percent lower risk of dying from any cause when compared to the general population.

DCIS patients had a 2.5 percent risk of dying of breast cancer after 10 years and 4 percent risk at 15 years. The rates were higher than deaths in the general population.

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"It might seem surprising that this group of women actually has a lower mortality rate than the general population," Dr. Lotte Elshof, research physician, epidemiologist at the Netherlands Cancer Institute and author of the study, said in a press release. "However, the vast majority would have been diagnosed via breast screening, which suggests they may be health-conscious and well enough to participate in screening."

The women had a lower risk of of dying from diseases of the circulatory system, respiratory system, digestive system and other cancers.

The study was presented at the European Cancer Congress 2017.

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