Women diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) need clear communication and tailored support to enable them to understand this complex breast condition, which has divided the medical profession when it comes to its perception and prognosis. That is the key finding of a study published in the April issue of the Journal of Advanced Nursing.
Research carried out at the University of the West of England, Bristol, UK, looked at how 45 women felt when they were diagnosed with DCIS and how their experiences changed over time. It found that many of the women were very confused about whether or not they had cancer and that medical staff often added to this confusion by providing conflicting messages.
"DCIS is a non-invasive condition where the cancer cells are contained in the ducts of the breast" explains lead author Dr Fiona Kennedy, now a research fellow at Sheffield Hallam University. "It currently makes up 20 per cent of breast cancers detected by UK screening programmes.
"However, uncertainty surrounds whether it will progress into invasive breast cancer and this has created two factions in the medical profession. Some view DCIS as a carcinoma in situ, emphasising that the majority of cases have a high risk of progression and need treatment to reduce the incidence of invasive breast cancer. Others view DCIS as a pre-cancerous condition.
"DCIS patients have an excellent prognosis, but treatment is controversial because it is similar to treatment for invasive breast cancer, including mastectomy and possibly radiotherapy and hormone treatment.
"This can be confusing for women diagnosed with DCIS. On the one hand they are being reassured that the condition is not life-threatening, yet on the other hand clinicians are recommending extensive, invasive treatment."
The women, who were recruited from nine UK breast clinics, ranged from 34 to 84 years-of-age with an average age of 59. Seventy-six per
|Contact: Annette Whibley|