The Who, What, Where, When and Sometimes, Why.

Emerging Areas in the Treatment of DCIS

Read our blog, ‘It Looks Promising’: Dr. Kornelia Polyak is Uncovering New Possibilities in Breast Cancer Prevention.

DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) is a non-invasive breast cancer. Researchers are studying the best ways to treat DCIS.

Emerging areas in the treatment of DCIS include:

  • Ways to predict which cases of DCIS, if left untreated, will progress to invasive breast cancer (to target treatment to those at higher risk)
  • Determining which women may not need radiation therapy after a lumpectomy for DCIS

Kornelia Polyak, M.D., Ph.D.
Komen Scientific Advisory Board member

“Understanding why some patients with DCIS develop invasive breast cancer, while others do not, would help identify the drivers of tumor progression and the design of more effective therapies.”

Avoiding radiation therapy after a lumpectomy for DCIS

Radiation therapy is a standard treatment for most people who have a lumpectomy for DCIS. It’s usually given every day, 5 days a week, for 3-4 weeks.

Radiation therapy decreases the risk of [5-12]:

  • DCIS recurrence (a return of DCIS) in the treated breast
  • Invasive breast cancer in the treated breast

However, overall survival is the same for women with DCIS who have a lumpectomy with or without whole breast radiation therapy [5-7].

Since radiation therapy after a lumpectomy for DCIS doesn’t improve survival, there are questions about the need for all women to get radiation therapy after a lumpectomy for DCIS.

Researchers are studying which women might be able to avoid radiation therapy after a lumpectomy for DCIS.

Some women, with small, low-grade or intermediate-grade DCIS, and widely negative surgical margins have a low risk of DCIS recurrence or invasive breast cancer after a lumpectomy [5]. (Low-grade and intermediate-grade DCIS tend to grow more slowly than high-grade DCIS. Margins are negative when there are no cancer cells in the rim of breast tissue surrounding the tumor that was removed during surgery.) Some of these women with a low risk may choose to avoid radiation therapy altogether or consider limited radiation therapy such as partial breast radiation therapy [5,12].

Learn more about getting radiation therapy.

Learn about the side effects of radiation therapy.


For a summary of research studies on treatment for DCIS with a lumpectomy plus whole breast radiation therapy, visit the Breast Cancer Research Studies section.

Tumor profiling tests and radiation therapy for DCIS

Tumor profiling tests are under study to see if they can help predict the chance DCIS will return in the breast [19-20]. These tests check a sample of the tumor (removed during a biopsy or surgery) for a group of genes.

The tumor profiling tests Oncotype DX Breast DCIS Score® and DCISionRT® are under study [19-21]. These tests might help identify which cases of DCIS are more likely to return in the breast (as DCIS recurrence or as invasive breast cancer), which may help guide treatment [21-23].

Some findings show DCISionRT might help identify which cases of DCIS would benefit most from radiation therapy after a lumpectomy, and which women might be treated with a lumpectomy alone [24].

The Oncotype DX Breast DCIS and DCISionRT tests need further study and aren’t part of the standard of care.

Clinical trials

 After discussing the benefits and risks with your health care provider, we encourage you to join a clinical trial if there’s one right for you.

Susan G. Komen® Patient Care Center

If you or a loved one needs information or resources about clinical trials, the Patient Care Center can help. Contact the Komen Breast Care Helpline at 1-877-465-6636 or email

The Patient Care Center navigators offer breast cancer clinical trial education and support, such as:

  • Knowing when to consider a trial
  • How to find a trial
  • How to decide which trial is best for you
  • What to expect during a trial
  • Information about clinical trial resources

Se habla español. in collaboration with Komen offers a custom matching service to help find clinical trials that fit your health needs.

Learn what else Komen is doing to help people find and participate in breast cancer clinical trials, including trials supported by Komen.

Learn more about clinical trials

Our commitment to research

At Susan G. Komen®, we are committed to saving lives by meeting the most critical needs in our communities and investing in breakthrough research to prevent and cure breast cancer. Our Research Program is an essential driving force for achieving this mission.

Since our inception in 1982, Komen has provided funding to support research grants that have greatly expanded our knowledge of breast cancer and helped us understand that breast cancer is not just a single disease but many diseases, unique to each individual.

To date, Komen has provided nearly $1.1 billion to researchers in 47 states, the District of Columbia and 24 countries to support research that has resulted in a better understanding of breast cancer; earlier detection; personalized, less invasive treatments for what was once a “one-treatment-fits-all” disease; and improvements in both quality of life and survival rates.

Learn more about our continuing investment in research and the exciting research we are funding, because nothing would make us happier than ending breast cancer forever.

 Updated 03/27/24