Stage 0 – Pre-breast cancer

Stage 0 breast cancer is a non-invasive cancer.

It occurs when abnormal cells are found in the lining of the breast milk duct or within the lobules – but have not yet spread to the surrounding breast tissue.

Treatments at this stage are aimed at preventing the tumour’s growth and spread, and prognosis is very good.

Types of Stage 0 breast cancer

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)

DCIS is the name for abnormal changes in the cells of milk ducts within the breast. These abnormalities have not yet spread into the breast tissue. Treatment may be required, but the cancer is not invasive.

About 1200 women are diagnosed with DCIS each year in Australia, but they will not die unless it develops into an invasive breast cancer. DCIS typically doesn’t have any symptoms so it is usually found by a routine mammogram rather than feeling a lump or change in the breast.

At this time, health care providers cannot predict which cases of DCIS will progress to invasive breast cancer and which will not. Because DCIS might turn into invasive breast cancer, almost every case of DCIS is treated.

Treatment for DCIS

Treatment for DCIS aims to prevent it developing into an invasive tumour.

Depending on how far the DCIS has spread through the milk ducts, a lumpectomy or mastectomy may be carried out to remove the tumour. Following surgery, radiation is usually required to remove all traces of the tumour and prevent recurrence and spread. Depending on the molecular make-up of the tumour and its hormone receptor status, treatment may also include hormone therapy for five years or longer.

Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)

LCIS is the name for abnormal changes in the lobules of the breast (the glands where milk is produced). As it does not spread to other parts of the breast or body, women cannot die from LCIS.

Treatment for LCIS

LCIS does not need to be treated if there are no other abnormal changes to the breast. However, having LCIS increases the risk of getting breast cancer and these women should be more closely monitored.


How research is helping

With the support of the community, NBCF is funding several ground-breaking research projects focusing on the treament and prevention of metastic breast cancer.

Researcher: A/Prof Andreas Moller

Location: QMIR Berghofer Medial Research Institute

Project Duration: 2018-2019

Project Title: Why does breast cancer spread to specific organs and not others?