ALERNATIVE TREATMENT FOR BREAST CANCER

The UK has the highest incidence of breast cancer in the world. More than 25,000 women receive a diagnosis of breast cancer each year and 15,000 die from it. It is the leading cause of death among women aged 35-54 years. The devastation to family life is enormous. The figures in Europe and the US are lower but still dramatic, whereas Japan has a strikingly low incidence of breast cancer. These statistics and other evidence indicates that nutrition and environmental pollutants are very likely to be relevant. Women who smoke have a higher incidence of breast cancer and those with low fat and higher antioxidant intake have lower incidence.

There is also an increased rate in those who suffer from constipation. This may be due to an unexplained raised oestrogen level or a simple increase in body toxins.

The breast is made up of several types of tissue. Cancers can occur in any of these and treatments and considerations are dependent upon which site the tumour has developed in. The two more common terms are adenocarcinoma and intraductal carcinoma .

Cancer is suspected because of three major tell-tale signs:

An unexpected lump, which is most often harder than other lumps found in the breast and is occasionally immobile.

Retraction or inversion of the nipple.

Discharge or blood seepage from the nipple.

Any of these signs must be brought to the attention of a doctor who has preferably also qualified as a complementary practitioner. I say this because of the current attitude of most specialists to use the mammogram as the principal diagnostic tool.

Investigations

If a breast lump is found that does not disappear at certain times of the cycle, is hard, seems to be fixed to the underlying rib cage or is distorting the skin or nipple area, investigations are warranted.

Medical examination

Most gynaecologists will have vast experience in examining breasts and will be able to give a ‘best guess’. If the specialist is not suspicious then neither should you be. Most will err on the side of caution and may suggest further investigations.

Blood tests

There is a compound that can appear in some breast cancers known as CAJ53. The presence of this ‘marker’ in the bloodstream is indicative of a breast cancer but unfortunately the reverse is not necessarily true because many cancers do not produce this chemical. A negative test, therefore, does not mean that the breast is clear.

The Humoral Pathological Laboratory Test -high magnification of blood cells – should be considered if available. This test can show changes in the red and white blood cell patterns in the bloodstream and, although not well substantiated through scientific experimentation yet, is a useful addition to the equation.

Ultrasound

As ultrasonography is becoming more accurate, this test is a non-invasive and harmless investigation. A small probe is run over and around the breast tissue and sound waves are bounced off the regular breast tissue and any lumps. A computer will rearrange the sound waves into a picture and, in the hands of an experienced technician, the density and consistency of the breast lump should be easily noted. Any suspicion should lead an individual into further investigations, such as magnetic resonance imaging or lumpectomy.

Magnetic resonance imaging is a highly sophisticated, non-X-ray technique that at this time has less evidence of being dangerous than an X-ray. It is my preference, at this time, to recommend MRI before mammograms . This technique can image a lump and give a clear indication of the possibility of a cancer and can also be used to test the axillary nodes for the possibility of spread.

Mammography

I am fearful that mammograms may be more harmful than beneficial and I suspect that doctors and the public are not being given all the information concerning their efficacy and safety. Despite sophisticated technology, mammograms are not faultless. The machinery may emit far higher levels of radiation than necessary and give a dose above that which is safe.

The images may suggest a cancer that, after operative procedures, proves to have been wrong. There is considerable evidence of inaccuracy. This may be partially because of misreading but also because dense breast tissue is hard for the X-rays to penetrate.

There is no doubt that radiation is toxic and can cause cancer. The amount of radiation in a mammogram is unlikely to trigger this but radiation has a cumulative effect. Twice the amount of radiation emitted in a mammogram is obtained in a transatlantic flight; however, regular flying and mammograms may build up radiation within the system. Up to three per cent of the population carry a particular gene, the ataxia-telangiectasia gene which is seemingly extremely sensitive to radiation and can alter into a cancerous state. The AT gene can be tested for, although at about £600 the cost is prohibitive and the test is not easy to obtain. Perseverance through a private laboratory may provide an answer for those who can afford it.

Statistically, the orthodox world will point out that mammograms do spot cancerous lumps sooner than women who only self-examine. I could find no study that compared mammograms with ultrasound, however. If a mammogram does find a cancer, if the woman is below the age of 50 years it is unlikely to make a difference to the outcome. Put another way, a cancerous lump found by mammogram will receive treatment sooner but have little effect on the rate of survival of a woman who discovers the cancer through a self-examination if she is under the age of 50 years. Once over 50 years there is some statistical significance but, again, the studies have flaws because they do not take into account the overall health of the individual, nor do they compare a group of women whose breast cancers were found by ultrasound.

Mammography is an aggressive and uncomfortable technique. The breast is squashed quite tightly between two X-ray plates and then held in that position for a few moments. It is well established that crushing and manipulating a tumour lump may encourage its spread and whilst the orthodox world is very swift to condemn the use of massage in cancer patients , they have no criticism of applying pressure to a potentially cancerous lump.

Biopsy

A biopsy of a lump is an outmoded diagnostic technique but is still used by some practitioners. A needle is passed into the suspicious area and a sample of tissue taken. The needle may miss the lump altogether or hit a part of the lump that does not have any cancerous cells. This will provide a false negative result. Alternatively, if the needle does pass into a cancerous area, as it is withdrawn cells may be seeded into a higher level of the breast or even into the skin, where the spread may be much more profound. I do not support biopsies and think that further investigations should be done through lumpectomy.

Lumpectomy

A lumpectomy is the procedure of removing a lump. It can occur anywhere in the body but is commonly used for the removal of breast lumps. This usually requires a general anaesthetic, although smaller lumps may be done under a local anaesthetic. The lump is isolated and tissue about 1cm around the lump is taken out with it. Very often this is sent down to the laboratory immediately, while the patient is still under anaesthetic and if a cancer is found a wider excision or mastectomy takes place. This is always discussed with the patient before the operation.

Lymph node sampling

At the time of the lumpectomy, or separately, any enlarged or suspicious lymph nodes may be dissected and sent away for examination to see if any cancer has spread through the lymphatic system. This procedure often leaves the lymph drainage of the arm compromised and can cause swelling and damage to the nerves in the area, leading to partial paralysis and persistent pain. These side effects are rare but must be taken into account when giving permission for an operative procedure.

Studies are currently underway to support the excision of one principal lymph node in the axilla area that is thought to collect all the lymph draining from the breast before it distributes this solution to other nodes. A cancer will spread to this node first and, therefore, may prevent more aggressive or more numerous lymph gland removal. This procedure is not in common use and will not be until further trials have taken place, which may take 2-3 more years.

Perform self-examination.

Obtain a medical opinion.

Routine screening through blood tests as described above is sensible.

Ultrasound examination on a yearly basis is safe and sensible.

Any suspicious area found on ultrasound should be examined by MRI.

Any continued suspicion after MRI should lead to a lumpectomy. Do not biopsy.

You will note that at no point do I suggest that mammography should be undertaken.

Treatments

The wide variety of cancer treatments and preventative measures are discussed in the section on cancer . Breast cancer is preventable and is treatable but, as in most serious conditions, requires the best line of treatment to be decided in consultation with a complementary practitioner.

RECOMMENDATIONS

See Cancer and follow the advice described there.

Broccoli contains a sulphur compound which has been shown to protect against breast cancer in animal studies. Regular intake may help.

Some breast cancers are oestrogen-dependent. This means that they grow quicker in the presence of oestrogen. There is some debate at the moment about whether plant oestrogens act by stimulating cancer growth or by blocking the oestrogen receptors on the cancer cells, thereby preventing oestrogen from influencing the growth rate. Until this debate has been resolved, all women with oestrogen-dependent tumours should avoid plant oestrogens and the foods in which they are contained, such as hops, soya products, celery, fennel and rhubarb. Those with breast tumours that are not oestrogen-dependent should use phyto-oestrogen supplements as they may hinder breast tumour growth.

The use of natural progesterone cream should be encouraged but prescribed by a complementary medical practitioner with experience in this area.

Orthodox treatment – apart from the use of mammography, the orthodox approach to breast cancer has been proven to be very effective over the last two decades. The treatment protocols include: Surgery includes removal of the lump , removal of part of the breast and total mastectomy. Lymph glands in the armpit are often removed, which can lead to the side effect of poor lymph drainage causing limb swelling, but radical mastectomy is now rare. Some studies have suggested that an operation on a breast cancer is less likely to recur if it is performed in the two weeks before the next period. The higher progesterone levels at this time may have a protective influence.

Radiotherapy. Certain types of tumour are susceptible to radiation but first one should insist upon genetic testing for the ataxia-telangiectasia gene, which makes people more sensitive to cancer formation from radiation.

Chemotherapy. The advent of oestrogen receptor-blocking drugs has so far proved to be effective in tumours that are oestrogen-sensitive. These drugs, such as tamoxifen and Megace, have side effects and block all oestrogen effects, thereby leading to menopausal-type symptoms and improved survival rates, although they are not, so far, proven to be curative by themselves. Other chemotherapy protocols are available in abundance. One major criticism is that despite the liaison and ability of breast cancer specialists there are currently over 50 different protocols, none of which seem to be more or less favourable than the others. Clearly some unity is needed.

Establish the percentage success rate of any treatment you are offered. Correlate this with the lifestyle changes and toxicity of the course you are recommended and in consultation with a medically qualified complementary practitioner discuss your options. One year of normal life with a possibility of a complementary treatment may be better than two years in and out of treatment centres with all the associated side effects.

Please refer to the various sections here discussing complementary therapy alongside the treatments , that. of blood with Phosphorus 6 and a milky discharge with Calcarea Carbonica at the same potency and frequency.

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