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Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS)

Chemotherapy and DCIS

Chemotherapy is the use of anti-cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. The drugs are usually given intravenously (by injection into a vein), and as a course of treatment lasting a few days. This is followed by a rest period of a few weeks which allows the body to recover from any side effects of the treatment. The number of courses that are given depend on the type of cancer and how well it is responding to the drugs. Treatment is usually given as an out-patient. Women who have been diagnosed with DCIS do not need to have chemotherapy.

 

A doctor explains why women with DCIS do not need chemotherapy.

A doctor explains why women with DCIS do not need chemotherapy.

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Are there any situations in which women with DCIS would have chemotherapy?
 
No. No. That’s the easiest question of all Suman. Because chemotherapy is very much to deal with cancer cells that have gone from an invasive cancer in the breast to some other part of the body, you wouldn’t know where they are, but people have chemotherapy in order to treat them because the chemotherapy drugs go in the blood stream to all the parts. But the DCIS doesn’t have the risk of cells going to other parts. Chemotherapy as such would be a huge overtreatment to try and prevent DCIS coming back in the same breast. And doesn’t have a role.
One of the women we spoke with had chemotherapy because she had invasive breast cancer in one breast and DCIS in the other.
 

Maisie didn’t have most of the side effects she had been told about, though she felt tired after...

Maisie didn’t have most of the side effects she had been told about, though she felt tired after...

Age at interview: 51
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 51
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When I started my chemo, after the doctors told you what would happen but they had to tell you anyway. I didn’t really have anything, you know, nothing really bad happened. The only thing I had really was when you had a chemo, I had a chemo on the Friday. Saturday, Sunday, Monday they give you some tablets to make you stop feeling sick. Those are the tablets that really make me feel really, really awful. So for three days I felt really terrible because of the tablets.
 
And then Tuesday and Wednesday, when the tablet, because you stop taking the tablets your body just feels really weak. And, you know, you just feel, I call it, although I’ve never take ecstasy, see the finger, although I’ve never taken ecstasy [laughs], I call it my ecstasy woozy day. Because Tuesday and Wednesday I just felt really woozy and, you know, my body felt drained and everything. But I still went walking [laughs]. But what I did, I took the bus route so if I was, if I felt really, really bad then I could just take the bus, then I could just take the bus back.
 
And then after that, you know, Thursday my body just, I can feel the change. My body just felt, all of a sudden my body felt the change and my body started coming, you just start coming back up.
 
And after that I just kept eating the stupid food, the carrots, the leeks and everything. Fish and stuff like that. And my body, from then on my body just went up and up and up. And that’s it, get ready for the next chemo. I didn’t have, thank, I didn’t have any of those. Oh, the only thing I had, I’m bald which everybody is bald and this is my nice wig but I’m not talking it off to show you what I look like [laughs]. And I have no hair on my body, my eyebrows, my eyelashes have gone, which everybody does. But I’ve got my eyebrows, which is surprising. I’ve still got my eyebrows. And my nails go black so I have to wear nail varnish. And my hand, you see this little black spots on my hand, that’s part of the chemo and stuff like that. And my foot, the bottom of my foot is really, has got black spots all over. My body is a bit darker. But I’m thinking, I said to myself, “What the hell? This is just to make you….” You know, you go through all this, you know there’s an ending. It makes your body get better, so you just go through it, get on with it and that’s it.
More experiences of chemotherapy can be found on the Healthtalk Breast Cancer site.
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Last reviewed July 2017.

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