Five years have passed since I was diagnosed with DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ ) in my right breast. DCIS is non-invasive cancer, meaning it hasn’t spread outside the milk duct into normal breast tissue. Stage zero.
I just had my yearly checkup, which consists of a mammogram and a followup visit with my surgeon. All good. Such a sigh of relief. I still have to have the annual followups because DCIS is most apt to recur within five to 10 years.
The five-year mark is a significant one so I thought it was a good time to republish the blog posts I wrote after I got my diagnosis. First a little background.
The back story
I’ve always had so-called lumpy breasts. The technical term is fibrocystic breasts. When I was in my 20s, I discovered a lump that turned out to be a benign tumor called fibroadenoma. I had surgery and all was fine, but from then on my breasts and I endured annual mammograms and lots of poking and prodding, along with occasional ultrasounds and needle biopsies.
Thankfully, lumps and suspicious areas always turned out to be normal. Until the summer of 2014. I got called back after my annual mammogram to have additional, magnified views. I was used to that drill but as always, was on pins and needles.
The magnified views gave the radiologist a better look at some white dots that had shown up on the mammogram. They were small deposits of calcium and are called calcifications. Calcifications often show up on mammograms, especially in women over 50. They’re usually benign.
When I asked the radiologist if he could tell if mine were benign, he said he wasn’t sure. Most of them looked normal, but a few didn’t. At that moment, I had a choice. I could watch and wait, meaning get another mammogram down the road and see if anything changed, or I could schedule a biopsy. I chose the latter and discovered that I had DCIS, which I had never even heard of before.
I’ve since met lots of women who have been diagnosed with DCIS. We haven’t all made the same decisions about treatment, but that’s because each of us has a different story. As I say in one of the blog posts I wrote about my experience, if I were younger when I was diagnosed, I’m pretty sure I would have made other choices.
Previous blog posts about DCIS
Here are two blog posts I wrote about DCIS, one soon after I was diagnosed and the other, a year later. Maybe they will help you make your own decisions about what to do if you’re diagnosed with DCIS.
- I was diagnosed with DCIS — Stage 0 breast cancer
- Stage 0 Breast Cancer (DCIS). Does it need to be treated?