Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is the presence of abnormal cells in the milk ducts and milk sacs of the breast; these cells are not malignant and do not spread to the rest of the body. Up to 20% of diagnosed breast cancer cases are DCIS. The study looked at whether patients with DCIS in Australia and New Zealand were treated in accordance with the 2003 National Breast Cancer Centre guidelines. The 3629 patients were enrolled in the National Breast Cancer Audit by 274 surgeons between January 1998 and December 2004.

Overall, patients were treated according to the guidelines. However, improvements could be made in the following areas:

  • The use of radiation therapy for large and/or high grade tumours was lower than recommended.
  • 30% of patients had axillary interventions, which are not recommended unless the tumour is invasive.
  • More information is needed on the benefits of tamoxifen for cases of DCIS.