Treatment of breast cancer

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers. In 2018 alone, according to the International Agency of Cancer Research, 2.088 million women were diagnosed with it. However, if it is detected in time and all measures are taken to prevent the development and recurrence, in 80% the disease can be successfully cured. Oncologist-chemotherapist Linda Brokane tells about modern methods of breast cancer therapy.

As the statistics shows, women over the age of 40 years are mostly impacted by this disease. According to the International Agency of Cancer Research, in 2018, this age group included 1.9 million new registered cases of breast cancer.

That is why women, whose reproductive function is fading away, should pay increased attention to their health. Many countries have government screening programs: the state is reimbursing the mammography.

According to WHO, in countries, where screening coverage is more than 70%, during the last 50 years, thanks to mammography, breast cancer mortality has decreased by 20% – 30%. According to statistics, for every 1000 screening examinations there are 1-2 cases of detection of a malignant tumor. In most cases, cancer is detected at an early stage, when it is effectively cured: 95% of women live more than 5 years. When the disease is advanced and it is at the 3-4th stage, this indicator sharply decreases – to 22%.

This examination is not recommended for younger women. However, any woman, regardless of age, should regularly carry out breast self-diagnosis (palpation and visual control). And if there is a lump, pain, a tendency to mastopathy, it is advisable to do an ultrasound scan once a year.

According to experts, the hereditary factor plays an important role in the development of disease. Therefore, if a woman is potentially at risk – if her mother and grandmothers had ovarian and breast cancer – it is recommended to take a DNA test for BRCA1 / BRCA2 mutations. According to statistics, if changes in these genes are found, then the risk of developing breast cancer increases even 80 times. [1]

Women, who are overweighed, do not have children or who have given birth to a first child after 35 years, as well as the ones, using various hormonal agents for a long time, are also at risk

Breast cancer and Thyroid

For example, in Japan, according to statistics, the incidence of breast cancer is, on average, 25.3 cases per 100,000 population, in the United States it is 76.7 per 100,000. However, Japanese women, who emigrated to the USA and turned to the Western style of nutrition, demonstrate exactly the same incidence rate as other North Americans. [2]

As Dr. Brokane said, in the countries of Southeast Asia, this disease is much less common than in Europe and the USA. This phenomenon is due to the diet of the region: seafood and algae, rich in iodine, have a beneficial effect on both the thyroid and the ovaries, and the development of tumors in breasts.

By the way, recent scientific studies have revealed a direct link between thyroid abnormalities and breast oncology. So, if a woman has found nodes on the thyroid, there is a lack or excess of hormones (hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism), it is worth paying special attention to the health of breasts.

Traditional treatment methods

The diagnosis of cancer is certainly very unpleasant. But over the past decades, medicine has moved forward very well in its treatment methods. In the early stages, breast cancer is cured – up to 80% of patients after the treatment enjoy a full life, without relapses.

According to Linda Brokane, treatment methods are prescribed depending on the type of tumor, its aggressiveness, the presence of metastases and their spread, and the immune response of the body. These factors determine, how radical the operation will be, whether chemical and radiation therapy is necessary, as well as will hormonal treatment methods be required.

Dr. Brokane notes that sometimes women refuse to receive chemotherapy: however, if there are indications, this should not be done. Alternative methods are a good support for the body, improving immune functions and reducing side effects, but treatment should be comprehensive.

Surgeons try to preserve organs as much as possible – often only the breast lobes are removed. If the mastectomy cannot be avoided, over time, the woman will be able to install a quality prosthesis: so, the appearance will not be a big problem.

Integrative approach

In modern medicine, an integrative, comprehensive approach to the treatment of oncological diseases is used: both traditional and alternative methods of treatment are used. Unfortunately, cancer cells are able to adapt well to the most extreme conditions: even such severe procedures as chemotherapy do not always affect them. That is why the treatment regimens are being changed, and at the same time they use methods that improve the general condition of the person and the immune response: so that the body finds internal resources to fight the disease and recognizes the “enemies” well.

Alternative methods are used in the intervals between courses of chemotherapy, sometimes they can be combined, but, according to Dr. Brokane, everything must be done under the supervision of an oncologist: in order not to reduce the effectiveness of the treatment. These methods are used in the case, when chemotherapy does not help or there are contraindications.

The most well-known methods of adjuvant therapies are ozone therapy and intravenous administration of vitamin C hyperdoses. Intravenous infusions of drugs based on herbal remedies that reduce inflammation and suppress the growth of cancer cells: curcumin, artesunate, and mistletoe.

More specific methods are hyperthermia; such biological immunotherapies as dendritic cell therapy and killer cell immunotherapy (CIK). Specialists make preparation from the patient’s own blood (or first-degree relatives) in the laboratory. This preparation increases the body’s immune response, reduce the resistance of cancer cells to traditional therapies, and reduce their growth.

As research shows, the integrative approach increases the effectiveness of treatment.

Psychological comfort

And of course, when it comes to such a delicate topic as breast cancer, it is very important to provide a woman with mental comfort and improve her psychological state. Often, patients, having learned about the diagnosis, fall into depression, lose motivation and turn pessimistic about their future. Attentive and friendly doctors, calm and cozy atmosphere, talking with a psychologist, qigong and meditation will help quickly adapt to a difficult situation and learn, how to live with it.

At all stages of treatment, physical activity and special exercises will be a good help. This is especially true after radical operations with the removal of lymph nodes, after which problems, caused by impaired lymph outflow, may arise. Experienced physiotherapists will develop a special program to help women improve their quality of life.

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