Views of healthcare professionals about the role of active monitoring in the management of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS): Qualitative interview study

Brooke Nickel, Kirsten McCaffery, Nehmat Houssami, Jesse Jansen, Christobel Saunders, Andrew Spillane, Claudia Rutherford, Ann Dixon, Alexandra Barratt, Kirsty Stuart, Geraldine Robertson, Jolyn Hersch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is an in-situ (pre-cancerous) breast malignancy whereby malignant cells are contained within the basement membrane of the breast ducts. Increasing awareness that some low-risk forms of DCIS might remain indolent for many years has led to concern about overtreatment, with at least 3 clinical trials underway internationally assessing the safety of active monitoring for low-risk DCIS. This study aimed to understand healthcare professionals' (HCPs) views on the management options for patients with DCIS.

Methods: Qualitative study using semi-structured interviews with HCPs involved in the diagnosis and management of DCIS in Australia and New Zealand. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and analysed thematically using Framework Analysis method.

Results: Twenty-six HCPs including 10 breast surgeons, 3 breast physicians, 6 radiation oncologists, and 7 breast care nurses participated. There was a strong overall consensus that DCIS requires active treatment. HCPs generally felt uncomfortable recommending active monitoring as a management option for lowrisk DCIS as they viewed this as outside current standard care. Overall, HCPs felt that active monitoring was an unproven strategy in need of an evidence base; however, many acknowledged that active monitoring for low-risk DCIS could be appropriate for patients with significant co-morbidities or limited life expectancy. They believed that most patients would opt for surgery wherever possible.

Conclusions: This study highlights the important need for robust randomised controlled trial data about active monitoring for women with low-risk DCIS, to provide HCPs with confidence in their management recommendations and decision-making. (C) 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-105
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Ductal carcinoma in situ
  • Management
  • Active monitoring
  • Overtreatment
  • Qualitative


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