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Does DCIS come back after mastectomy?

A mastectomy will almost certainly cure DCIS, which stands for ductal carcinoma in situ. DCIS means that there are cells that have started to turn into cancer, but they are completely enclosed within the breast ducts. 

Mastectomy means removing the whole breast.  When doctors remove the breast, they are very likely to remove all the cancer cells. But in rare cases, DCIS or cancer can come back after mastectomy because it is not possible to remove all of the breast tissue. 

If you need a mastectomy, you can have breast reconstruction to create a new breast. You can have this done at the same time as the mastectomy or in another operation later.

Often though, women don't need a mastectomy for DCIS. For some women, it can work just as well if you have surgery to remove the area of DCIS with a border of healthy tissue around it. After surgery, you may have radiotherapy, hormone therapy or both. 

The type of surgery that is best for you will depend on the size of the area of DCIS, and whether there is more than one area. Your surgeon will be able to tell you what your treatment options are.  

Researchers are looking into the best treatments for DCIS, taking into account

  • The size of the area of the DCIS
  • And what the cells look like under a microscope (the grade of the DCIS cells).

We have a page of detailed information about DCIS.

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Updated: 5 August 2014