WOMEN'S HEALTH - BREAST CANCER
Early detection of breast cancer through regular mammograms and other screening techniques can help catch cancers before they cause symptoms. Breast cancer is the most common cause of death in women between the ages of 45 and 55. Although breast cancer in women is a common form of cancer, male breast cancer does occur and accounts for about 1% of all cancer deaths in men. In the U.S. alone one out of every eight women suffers from this disease.
Research has yielded much information about the causes of breast cancers, and it is now believed that genetic and/or hormonal factors are the primary risk factors for breast cancer. Breast cancer treatment depends upon many factors, including the type of cancer and the extent to which it has spread. Treatment options for breast cancer may involve surgery (removal of the cancer alone or, in some cases, mastectomy), radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, and/or chemotherapy.
Symptoms of breast cancer are as follows:
- Increasing swellings or lumps seen in the breast or in the armpit are a symptom. Though this may also be due to hormonal changes, it might be better to get a checkup done.
- Changes in the size and shape of the mature breast, especially if it is prominently noticed in one breast may be a concerning symptom.
- Fluid, not milk leakages from one nipple, especially in older women is a cause of concern.
- Noticeable changes occurring in the size and shape of the nipple or not easily returning to its normal shape can be a symptom of breast cancer too.
Early diagnosis is especially important for breast cancer because the disease responds best to treatment before it has spread. The earlier breast cancer is found and treated, the better a woman's chance for complete recovery.
Causes of Breast Cancer
Though the exact causes of breast cancer are largely unknown, research has found some probable causes of breast cancer.
Family history has long been known to be a risk factor for breast cancer. Both maternal and paternal relatives are important. The risk is highest if the affected relative developed breast cancer at a young age, had cancer in both breasts, or if she is a close relative. First-degree relatives, (mother, sister, daughter) are most important in estimating risk. Several second-degree relatives (grandmother, aunt) with breast cancer may also increase risk. Breast cancer in a male increases the risk for all his close female relatives. Having relatives with both breast and ovarian cancer also increases a woman's risk of developing breast cancer.
There is great interest in genes linked to breast cancer. About 5%-10% of breast cancers are believed to be hereditary as a result of mutations, or changes, in certain genes that are passed along in families.
- BRCA1 and BRCA2 are abnormal genes that, when inherited, markedly increase the risk of breast cancer to a lifetime risk estimated between 40% and 85%. Women with these abnormal genes also have an increased likelihood of developing ovarian cancer. Women who have the BRCA1 gene tend to develop breast cancer at an early age.
Some other probable causes and risk factors are:
- Advancing age
- Excessive exposure to radioactive rays
- Hereditary genes or family history
- Late childbearing
- The use of hormone replacement therapy
- Early onset of a menstrual cycle and an early menopause
- Men or women working in chemical factories
There are two methods of treatment - local and systemic.
- Local treatments are used to remove or destroy the cancer cells in a specific area. Surgery and Radiation therapy are examples of local treatments.
- Systemic treatments are used to destroy or control cancer cells all over the body. Chemotherapy and hormonal therapy examples of systemic treatments.
The right treatment method, however, depends on the size and location of the breast tumor; the results of the pathologist’ s review of the tumor specimen, the woman's age, menopausal status, and general health; and the stage of the disease.
Our Integrative Approach
Although we do not treat cancer per se, we offer treatment options for Cancer Co-Management Therapies such as oral and intravenous nutrition, vitamin c, glutathione and herbal support to support and enhance the immune system and provide the body with energy to recover and heal.