October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Breast cancer is now the second leading cause of cancer death in women. Breast cancer is a condition in which cancer (malignant) cells are found in the tissues of the breast.
At this time, no one knows the cause of the majority of breast cancers. There are many theories, including an inherited tendency, genetic mutations and environmental exposure; pesticides, and even bras (though many feel it is the metal in the bras and not the bras themselves); however, the cause of breast cancer is the subject of ongoing research. Every woman is at risk for developing breast cancer. Breast cancer is 100 times more common in women than in men. Following skin cancer, breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women.
While many risk factors have been identified, approximately 70 to 80 percent of breast cancer cases occur in women with no readily identifiable risk factors. Factors associated with an increased risk of female breast cancer do include: Increasing age: 75 percent of cases are diagnosed in women greater than 50 years of age; previous history of breast cancer; family history of breast cancer; prolonged estrogen exposure; genetics; and lifestyle behaviors, as well as hormonal therapy used to treat other medical conditions and radiation therapy. The primary risk factor associated with male breast cancer is advancing age.
Signs and Symptoms
Some women may not experience any symptoms. The first clue leading to the diagnosis of breast cancer may be the presence of a tumor as seen on a mammogram or thermogram. For women that do experience symptoms, the earliest one is typically the discovery of a lump in the breast or underneath the armpit. Usually there is no pain associated with the lump. Women who discover a lump or any of the following symptoms should see their physician:
- Change in the normal appearance of the breast, including size and shape of the breast, or color or feel of the skin
- Nipple retraction
- Nipple discharge, either clear or bloody
- Sudden onset of breast pain or tenderness
The most common symptom of male breast cancer is a painless lump. Additional symptoms may include nipple discharge (clear or bloody), nipple retraction or skin ulceration.
Types of Breast Cancer and Risks associated with them:
Each breast has 15 to 20 sections called lobes, which have many smaller sections called lobules. The lobes and lobules are connected by thin tubes called ducts. The most common type of breast cancer is ductal cancer. It is found in the cells of the ducts. Cancer that begins in the lobes or lobules is called lobular cancer. Lobular cancer is more often found in both breasts than other types of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is an uncommon type of breast cancer. In this disease, the breast is warm, red, and swollen.
Hereditary breast cancer makes up approximately 5% to 10% of all breast cancer cases. The genes in cells carry the hereditary information that is received from a person's parents. Several genes have been found to be defective in some breast cancer patients. Relatives of breast cancer patients who carry these defective genes may be more likely to develop breast or ovarian cancer. Some defective genes are more common in certain ethnic groups. Tests are being developed to determine who has the genetic defect long before any cancer appears.
Hormonal contraceptives may be another factor to consider. Research findings suggest a link between contraceptive use and a slightly increased risk of developing breast cancer.
The Diagnosis of Breast Cancer
Generally, the earlier a breast cancer is diagnosed, the better the prognosis. The traditional screening methods include: Breast self-examination (BSE); physical breast examination by a health care professional, and mammogram. There are also many alternative tests that can be used - go to our Tests to Detect Cancer page. Once breast cancer is diagnosed, the next step is to determine whether or not it has spread - normally a biopsy, but there are also alternative approaches also discussed on our Tests page. For a list of places that offer thermography screening, go to our Breast Cancer Thermography page.
If it is determined that there is cancer, some feel it is important that certain tests (called estrogen and progesterone receptor tests) be done on the cancer cells. Estrogen and progesterone receptor tests may tell whether hormones affect the way the cancer grows. They may also give information about the chances of the tumor coming back (recurring). The results help a doctor decide whether to use hormone therapy to stop the cancer from growing.
The chance of recovery (prognosis) and choice of treatment depend on the stage of the cancer (whether it is just in the breast or has spread to other places in the body), the type of breast cancer, certain characteristics of the cancer cells, and whether the cancer is found in the other breast. A woman's age, weight, menopausal status (whether or not a woman is still having menstrual periods), and general health can also affect the prognosis and choice of treatment.
Estimated new cancer cases and deaths in the United States for the year 2002, according to the American Cancer Society (Year 2002 Surveillance Research from the American Cancer Society) for breast cancer are: There is an estimated 203,500 new cases of invasive breast cancer in women and 1500 in men, and 54,300 new cases of in suti breast cancer. The estimated number of deaths for 2002 is 39,600 for women and 400 for men.
Improved screening techniques allow earlier diagnosis and more effective treatment options, and the mortality rate for breast cancer has declined. The 5-year survival rates for women and men with node-negative cancer are 92 and 79 percent, respectively. The survival rates decrease for node-positive cancers and vary depending upon the extent of metastatic spread. If cancer has spread regionally, the rate drops to 78% and for women with distant metastases, the rate is 21%. There are many who disagree with these figures, but these are the figures reported by the American Cancer Society.
What are the Treatments for Breast Cancer?
Most of the current conventional approaches to treating cancer include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, biological and hormonal therapy, including Tamoxifen and Herceptin. The treatment of male breast cancer is similar to that of female breast cancer.
Monoclonal Antibody approach may also be used - This is where an antibody is produced in a laboratory to isolate and clone individual B-lymphocytes, resulting in the production of a pure antibody. This approach attempts to block or inhibit cancer receptor sites. This approach is an attempt to prevent the spread of cancerous cells and sensitizes the immune system in fighting off cancerous cells.
There are a number of clinics in the U.S. and around the world that are having good successes treating breast cancer. Call us for referral. Some of the approaches used include: Iscador (mistletoe), homeopathy, Essiac, Green tea, 714X, diet, nutrition, enzymes, laetrile, use of progesterone creams for hormone imbalances, mushroom extracts, MGN3, IP6, and more. Most of the therapies listed on our Choice of Therapies page can be used with breast cancers.
Calcium D-glucurate has been shown in animal studies to reduce tumor formation by 50-70% and the levels of serum estradiol were decreased by 23%. It may be worthwhile to add this to one's program.
Mistletoe, also known as Iscador, is used at quite a few clinics in Mexico, overseas, and in the states. http://www.sph.uth.tmc.edu/utcam/summary/mistletoe.htm or http://www.cancer.gov/cancerinfo/pdq/cam/mistletoe - For more info, contact Weleda at http://iscador.com/ - in NY at 800-241-1030. They can put you in touch with physicians who use it.
Applying progesterone transdermally (directly to the breast) may help to curtail the proliferation of breast cancer cells.
Flaxseed oil & cottage cheese have been pretty successful as a protocol.
See article entitled: Flaxseeds May Help Fight Breast Cancer
Dr. Day has a 10 Step approach to treating cancer. Go to her website for more information.www.drday.com. She has a program that can be done at home; however, we strongly encourage you to work with an alternative physician to oversee any program.
Clinical Trials using more alternative approaches:
Burzynski's Clinic is doing a clinical trial using antineoplastons. For more information, call their clinic at 713-335-5697. There may be other clinics offering this approach. Call us if yuo would like information on this.
Additional clinical trials can be searched by going to some of the links on our Clinical Trials page.
Breast cancer prevention:
Breast cancer prevention includes watching your diet; exercising and avoiding toxins. It is most important to lower the saturated fat content in your diet, but to include "good fats" such as fish oils and olive oil.
Eating organic foods will help you avoid pesticides, which have been linked to this and many other forms of cancer. It is advised to stay avoid estrogen as it can raise the risk of cancer.
Daily exercise reduces the risk of breast cancer significantly.
Minimize your exposure to ionizing radiation.
Once a person has had breast cancer, there is a greater risk of reoccurrence. A diligent maintenance program and lifestyle change is important to optimize the duration of remission. The use of a mega-nutrient nutraceutical, plus detoxification will enhance traditional approaches and may function on its own as a good adjunctive program. Using these protocols not only detoxifies the body, but strengthens the immune system.
Bi-annual check ups are important for physical exams, overall blood tests (chem panel/CBC differential), selective tumor mark blood tests, such CA15-3 or CA-27.29 (Breast), and/or various instrumental techniques to monitor a possible reoccurrence of cancer. Early detection of a breast cancer reoccurrence can enhance success of various treatment modalities for cancer.
Info on a Fraudulent study on using ultrahigh doses of chemotherapy followed by a bone marrow transplants to treat breast cancer.
There is a good website for information on breast cancer - AnnieAppleseed - http://annieappleseedproject.org/breascanis.html and a good breast cancer forum at Amazon - for those people who are using alternative approaches. Some have done surgery but chosen not to do chemo and radiation. Others have taken a totally alternative route. These people are very supportive. For information, go to http://www.bcforum.org/listserv.html.
If you want to talk to women who have used alternative or integrated approaches, go to Brave Souls at http://www.brave-souls.com/speak-with-survivors/ for a list of people you can talk to.
The Lancet, 2002;360:187-195 reports a study on breastfeeding and family size. Researchers now believe small family size and reduced breastfeeding may be a significant factor fueling this ever-growing epidemic. Researchers reported the overall risk of breast cancer decreased by 4.3 percent for every year a woman breastfed in her lifetime. Additionally, there was a 7-percent decrease for every birth regardless of whether the mother ever breastfed. The authors of the study said that if women were to breastfeed each of their children for an additional six months, this could prevent about 5 percent of breast cancers each year. An additional 12 months could decrease that number by as much as 11 percent.
ASIA WorldSources, Inc. reports on a couple of studies. One claims Healthy diet helps reduce cancer risk for breast cancer and secondary cancers in women. Zubairi Djoerban, internist and hematologist at Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital, told The Jakarta Post on Saturday that eating vegetables and fruit five times a day or taking a daily 30-minute brisk walk could reduce the risk of breast cancer. He said that eating fatty foods, smoking and drinking alcohol made women susceptible to breast cancer. Another study conducted in the U.S., Soehartati said that early detection could help reduce breast cancer deaths by up to 30 percent.