DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I need information about lobular carcinoma in situ. I had a breast lump biopsied, and that’s what the report said I have. My doctor says it isn’t cancer. My dictionary says it is. Who’s right? – W.R.

ANSWER:
Calling lobular carcinoma in situ – LCIS – cancer is controversial. The cells are suspicious, but they aren’t exactly cancerous. “In situ” means that these suspicious cells are not invading neighboring tissues. They’re staying in the same place where they arose.

However, LCIS does raise the risk for breast cancer. Women who have the diagnosis must be followed with regular breast exams and with mammograms. Cancer might pop up in the breast in which the LCIS lump was not discovered.

Some doctors put women with this diagnosis on tamoxifen. Taking that drug reduces the cancer risk by 50 percent.

In a few instances, mastectomy might be recommended. Women at high risk for breast cancer are the ones who get that recommendation.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from www.rbmamall.com


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