Background: Management of patients with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a dilemma, as mastectomy provides nearly a 100% cure rate but at the expense of physical and psychologic morbidity. It would be helpful if we could predict which patients with DCIS are at sufficiently high risk of local recurrence after conservative surgery (CS) alone to warrant postoperative radiotherapy (RT) and which patients are at sufficient risk of local recurrence after CS + RT to warrant mastectomy. The authors reviewed the published studies and identified the factors that may be predictive of local recurrence after management by mastectomy, CS alone, or CS + RT.
Methods: The authors examined patient, tumor, and treatment factors as potential predictors for local recurrence and estimated the risks of recurrence based on a review of published studies. They examined the effects of patient factors (age at diagnosis and family history), tumor factors (sub-type of DCIS, grade, tumor size, necrosis, and margins), and treatment (mastectomy, CS alone, and CS + RT). The 95% confidence intervals (CI) of the recurrence rates for each of the studies were calculated for subtype, grade, and necrosis, using the exact binomial; the summary recurrence rate and 95% CI for each treatment category were calculated by quantitative meta-analysis using the fixed and random effects models applied to proportions.
Results: Meta-analysis yielded a summary recurrence rate of 22.5% (95% CI = 16.9-28.2) for studies employing CS alone, 8.9% (95% CI = 6.8-11.0) for CS + RT, and 1.4% (95% CI = 0.7-2.1) for studies involving mastectomy alone. These summary figures indicate a clear and statistically significant separation, and therefore outcome, between the recurrence rates of each treatment category, despite the likelihood that the patients who underwent CS alone were likely to have had smaller, possibly low grade lesions with clear margins. The patients with risk factors of presence of necrosis, high grade cytologic features, or comedo subtype were found to derive the greatest improvement in local control with the addition of RT to CS. Local recurrence among patients treated by CS alone is approximately 20%, and one-half of the recurrences are invasive cancers. For most patients, RT reduces the risk of recurrence after CS alone by at least 50%. The differences in local recurrence between CS alone and CS + RT are most apparent for those patients with high grade tumors or DCIS with necrosis, or of the "comedo" subtype, or DCIS with close or positive surgical margins.
Conclusions: The authors recommend that radiation be added to CS if patients with DCIS who also have the risk factors for local recurrence choose breast conservation over mastectomy. The patients who may be suitable for CS alone outside of a clinical trial may be those who have low grade lesions with little or no necrosis, and with clear surgical margins. Use of the summary statistics when discussing outcomes with patients may help the patient make treatment decisions.