When most women are told they have DCIS or ductal carcinoma in situ, the only thing they hear is the word carcinoma. This immediately conjures up fear-filled nightmares of losing their breasts and all their hair, followed by their early demise.
When first diagnosed, most women know nothing about cancer. At a time when they are most vulnerable, they are suddenly overwhelmed with a flood of complex and often conflicting medical information. This can cause an unhealthy climate of fear, culminating in the attitude that more treatment is always better and pressuring them into rushing into treatment decisions that will affect them for the rest of their lives.
Fiona Kennedy, PhD, at Sheffield Hallam Universtity in the UK conducted a study regarding women’s perceptions from DCIS diagnosis to one year later. She found that “many women felt confused and conflicted by their diagnosis, with some being told they had cancer and some being told they did not……Women spoke about the contradictions of being told their condition was precancerous or noncancerous, but then being advised to have extensive, invasive treatment. When one woman’s surgeon told her she shouldn’t be so worried since she didn’t have cancer, the woman wondered why, then, she had to have part of her breast removed and had to undergo radiotherapy. ”
Doctors too are conflicted about DCIS, but often feel pressure to offer whatever treatment they have available, not only to keep their patients safe, but also to protect themselves from potential litigation.
In an effort to ease this fear for everyone, some doctors are suggesting that DCIS be renamed, omitting the word carcinoma. Although DCIS cells are abnormal, they do not have the capability of invading the breast or the rest of the body.
The initial fear can be eased in several different ways. Just knowing that you will not die from DCIS and that you also don’t need to rush into anything can be huge reliefs. This gives women time to educate themselves on the latest studies, tests and resources. Please read DCIS — Beyond “One-Size Fits-All”
It is vitally important to find a support person or group. If you don’t have anyone that understands your situation and you feel alone, please contact me by email:
Donna Pinto: firstname.lastname@example.org
How do I know it is possible to achieve peace of mind and a sense of well-being, even with a diagnosis of DCIS? Read my blog post: