Carcinoma In Situ

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Carcinoma in situ describes a cancerin the very earliest stage. At this point, the cancer is quite small and has not invadedthe tissues around it.

What is going on in the body?

Cancerdevelops in several stages. A cancer begins when a single cell becomes cancerous.This happens when the central control of the cell is damaged. The cell begins to growand multiply out of control. When enough of these cells are produced, they form atumor. The tumor will eventually grow large enough to press on the tissue around it.The tumor will also invade and destroy the tissue around it. When a tumor has formedbut has not begun to invade tissue, it is said to be “in situ,” which means in place. Some cancersmay stay in this stage for a long time. Most cancers, however, do not stay in situ forlong and begin to spread. Cancers found in situ are the easiest to cure because theyhave not spread.

What are the causes and risks of the disease?

The risks for developing a particular type of carcinoma in situare the same as the risks for developing that type of cancer.

Symptoms & Signs

What are the signs and symptoms of the disease?

Carcinoma in situ is so small that there may be no symptoms.Carcinoma in situ of the breastmay be found when a small change is noted on amammogram.Carcinoma in situ of the bladdermay be found when the internal wall of the bladder is examined for other reasons.Routine Pap smearsof the cervix are done to find carcinoma in situ of the cervix.

Diagnosis & Tests

How is the disease diagnosed?

Carcinoma in situ is diagnosed by taking a sample, called abiopsy,of the area. This sample is sent to a laboratory to see if it is cancerous.

Prevention & Expectations

What can be done to prevent the disease?

Some cancers cannot be prevented. Other cancers, such asbladder cancer,lung cancer,and throat cancer,are related to smoking.Avoiding tobacco products in all forms may help prevent these cancers.

For the cancers that cannot be prevented, finding the cancer in an earlystage is very important to ensuring successful treatment. Routinebreast self-exams,mammograms,Pap smears,and testicular self-examscan help to find cancers in an early stage.

What are the long-term effects of the disease?

Carcinoma in situ is likely to invade nearby tissue and spread to otherparts of the body. Cancer that has spread, also known as metastasized,is fatal if it is not treated.

What are the risks to others?

There is no risk to others from a person who has carcinoma in situ.

Treatment & Monitoring

What are the treatments for the disease?

Removing all of the cancerous tissue is the primary treatment. This can bedone by surgery. Removing the cancer can also be done by destroying the areachemically, with chemotherapy,or with radiation therapy.

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Because the affected area is small, the side effects and discomfort areminimal.

What happens after treatment for the disease?

Sometimes, the presence of one carcinoma in situ can mean that otherswill form. The doctor will want to monitor the person closely to see whether carcinoma in situ comes backat the same spot or whether a new one develops somewhere else.

How is the disease monitored?

The affected area will be closely monitored. For example, a woman withcarcinoma in situ of the cervixwill need more frequent Pap smearsthan a woman without cancer. A woman withcarcinoma in situ of the breastwill need more frequent mammograms.A person who has had carcinoma in situ of the bladderwill require frequent examinations of the bladder wall.

Article type: xmedgeneral