Importance: While the prevalence of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) of the breast has increased substantially following the introduction of breast-screening methods, the clinical significance of early detection and treatment for DCIS remains unclear.
Objective: To investigate the survival benefit of breast surgery for low-grade DCIS.
Design, setting, and participants: A retrospective longitudinal cohort study using the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database from October 9, 2014, to January 15, 2015, at the Dana-Farber/Brigham Women's Cancer Center. Between 1988 and 2011, 57,222 eligible cases of DCIS with known nuclear grade and surgery status were identified.
Exposures: Patients were divided into surgery and nonsurgery groups.
Main outcomes and measures: Propensity score weighting was used to balance patient backgrounds between groups. A log-rank test and multivariable Cox proportional hazards model was used to assess factors related to overall and breast cancer-specific survival.
Results: Of 57,222 cases of DCIS identified in this study, 1169 cases (2.0%) were managed without surgery and 56,053 cases (98.0%) were managed with surgery. With a median follow-up of 72 months from diagnosis, there were 576 breast cancer-specific deaths (1.0%). The weighted 10-year breast cancer-specific survival was 93.4% for the nonsurgery group and 98.5% for the surgery group (log-rank test, P < .001). The degree of survival benefit among those managed surgically differed according to nuclear grade (P = .003). For low-grade DCIS, the weighted 10-year breast cancer-specific survival of the nonsurgery group was 98.8% and that of the surgery group was 98.6% (P = .95). Multivariable analysis showed there was no significant difference in the weighted hazard ratios of breast cancer-specific survival between the surgery and nonsurgery groups for low-grade DCIS. The weighted hazard ratios of intermediate- and high-grade DCIS were significantly different (low grade: hazard ratio, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.21-3.52; intermediate grade: hazard ratio, 0.23; 95% CI, 0.14-0.42; and high grade: hazard ratio, 0.15; 95% CI, 0.11-0.23) and similar results were seen for overall survival.
Conclusions and relevance: The survival benefit of performing breast surgery for low-grade DCIS was lower than that for intermediate- or high-grade DCIS. A prospective clinical trial is warranted to investigate the feasibility of active surveillance for the management of low-grade DCIS.