Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS)

Views on breast screening

Many women were glad they attended for routine breast screening when invited on the NHS Breast Screening Programme. They said that they had no breast symptoms and, had it not been for screening, they would never have known anything was wrong. Several said they were grateful that the NHS Breast Screening Programme existed and that women aged 50-70 were routinely invited every three years. Some women said they felt lucky their screening invitation had arrived when it did because, had they waited longer, their DCIS might have become more serious, several saying they were pleased and reassured that it had been ‘caught early’.
Many advised other women to attend for breast screening and not to be scared of it. Several noted that, though the mammogram can be uncomfortable or slightly painful, a few minutes of discomfort was worthwhile because it could detect breast problems at an early stage. Some women said that, because of their own experience, they encouraged their sisters to attend for routine breast screening. Others were keen that their daughters attended. Several said they would like to continue going for breast screening after the age of seventy, and some that they felt breast screening should be offered to women under fifty as well, particularly those with a family history of breast cancer. The NHS Breast Screening Programme in England is currently phasing in an extension of the age range of women eligible for breast screening to those aged 47 to 73. For more information see NHS Breast Screening Programme.
Some women said that, in order to raise awareness, they would like to see more publicity in the media about symptomless breast cancer and positive publicity about breast screening, which they felt would encourage more women to attend.
Having had DCIS, most women were invited for follow-up, which included an annual mammogram for five years. Many said that they were nervous or apprehensive about the first mammogram after surgery but found subsequent ones less daunting. Most felt reassured because they felt that potential breast problems would be detected and treated early. Some women who had two-yearly mammograms at follow-up said they would have preferred to have them annually.
Although many women were glad that routine breast screening was offered to women over 47, some questioned its benefits. Several women said that, before having DCIS, they had trusted that breast screening was a good thing because it was so widely available and strongly promoted by the NHS. However, having had DCIS and learned how poorly understood it was, they regretted having gone for breast screening and felt that screening shouldn’t be offered for something that doctors don’t know how to treat. A few women decided not to go again as they felt there was little point in finding DCIS again, which might remain harmless for many years. One of these women said she had stopped taking Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), which she felt might have caused her DCIS, and hoped she had now eliminated the risk of getting DCIS again.
A few women who had a mastectomy for DCIS were left with mixed feelings about breast screening and said that, if DCIS was ever found in the other breast, they would choose not to have immediate surgery.
Although most women were happy with the information they got before going for routine breast screening, some said they would have liked more beforehand about all the possible outcomes of screening, including DCIS. This would have enabled them to make a truly informed decision about whether to attend and better prepared them for the possibility of a DCIS diagnosis. Other women, though, felt that information about DCIS before screening would be unhelpful because it could cause a lot of unnecessary anxiety.
Many encouraged other women to be breast aware whether they attended for breast screening or not, something they themselves were more conscious of since their own diagnosis.

Last reviewed July 2017.

Last updated July 2017.

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