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Breast Cancer Screening – The Essential Facts

Breast cancer screening is one of the most important ways to catch cancer early. If breast cancer can’t be prevented, early detection is the next best way to approach the threat of breast cancer. This involves breast cancer screening.

Breast cancer
Breast cancer is the result of abnormal cells forming a tumor in the breast. It can sometimes be found as a result of a woman conducting a self-examination of her breasts. It is recommended that all women do this once a month.

A tumor might also be discovered on a routine trip to the doctor. If a woman finds something suspicious, she should also go to the doctor. The doctor can conduct a clinical breast exam. Based on the findings o that exam, they may request further tests. One of them may be a screening of the breast known as a mammogram.

Mammograms
Mammograms use small amounts of radiation to scan breast tissue and determine if there is anything irregular that might indicate cancer is present. Keep in mind that there are many benign, that is, harmless reasons for a breast to change, such as cysts.

The benefit of screening is that if breast cancer is found early enough, it will have less chance to spread, and therefore be more curable. Early detection can lead to a better prognosis, or outcome. Therefore, in addition to confirming whether or not there might be a lump in the breast, mammograms are also used for regular screenings as part of breast cancer prevention.

Current screening guidelines
The current screening guidelines at the American Cancer society are as follows:

Women ages 40 to 44
They should be given the option to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms, which are x-rays of the breast, if they wish to do so. There is some risk involved with the radiation from x-rays, so some women may not wish to have a mammogram, in which case, they should consider other options.

Women age 45 to 54
They should get mammograms every year.

Women 55 and older
They should have every 2 years, or can continue yearly screenings if they wish if they are especially concerned, such as due to a history of breast cancer in the family.

Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health, and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.
https://www.cancer.org/healthy/find-cancer-early/cancer-screening-guidelines/american-cancer-society-guidelines-for-the-early-detection-of-cancer.html

These recommendations are based on the fact that most breast cancer cases are found in women over age 40 to 54, the years of perimenopause and menopause, that is, around the time a woman’s period’s stop and she goes through full menopause. Menopause is defined as periods having stopped for 1 year.

The Pros and Cons of Mammograms

There are a number of pros and cons to mammograms.

Pros
• Early detection of cancer
• A baseline to compare to with follow up tests

Cons
• Radiation exposure, which could lead to cancer rather than prevent it
• False negatives-cancer is present, but not reported, potentially leading to advanced breast cancer
• False positives-cancer is not present, but reported, leading to unnecessary treatment

The reason for these last 2 cons is that mammograms are fairly reliable diagnostic tests, but they have to be administered and interpreted by human beings, who can make mistakes.

It can be difficult given the nature of the varying sizes, shapes and density of some women’s breasts. The breast tissue is pressed between two glass plates, which can be uncomfortable. If a woman moves during the scan, her results may not be clear.

The machine also has to be calibrated correctly to get a clear result. Once the scan is taken, it has to be interpreted by a person. A newer radiologist may not have the skill compared to a more experienced one.

But it is generally safe and effective, and of great benefit to high risk women who have breast cancer in their family.

For the latest screening guidelines issued, visit: https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/BrowseRec/Search?s=breast+cancer+screening

Preventing Breast Cancer Naturally

Breast cancer can be a terrifying thought for many women. Unlike most cancers, breast cancer can affect a woman psychologically and emotionally as well as physically, since it has a direct impact on her body image, and on her feelings about womanhood and sexuality.

One in 8 women will develop breast cancer in the USA in her lifetime, about 12%. One could look at it the other way and say 7 out of 8 women will not develop it, but if anything can be done to prevent cancer, it’s always a good idea to try to follow the guidelines so you don’t end up one of the unfortunate ones.

Genetic versus lifestyle factors
While it is true that breast cancer does have a genetic component, it is also true that any health issue can be affected by certain lifestyle factors. Therefore, it is possible to prevent breast cancer naturally by being pro-active about your health. Here are several of the best ways to warn off serious health issue and stay looking and feeling your best until well into your senior years.

Quit smoking
Smoking tobacco has been linked to nearly a dozen different types of cancer, not just lung cancer. Each cigarette contains about 400 different kinds of chemicals to the body, some of them toxic. If you smoke, quit. And invest all the money you’ve been spending on this habit on other things that will improve your health.

Quit drinking alcohol
Alcohol has also been linked to at least 7 different types of cancer. It is also linked with eating disorders, diabetes, and disinhibition, that is, a lack of control, and making poor choices about one’s health. Invest all the money you’ve been spending on alcohol on healthier food and drink.

Stop eating red meat
Red meat, especially if it has been charred, grilled or cooked until well done, has been associated with various cancers, including breast and prostate cancer. Stop eating red meat and swap salmon, tofu, kidney beans and legumes such as lentils instead. All of these are ‘super foods’ with a great deal of nutrition that are high in protein and fiber to help you feel full, and low in calories, to help you keep your weight down.

Avoid processed foods
Steer clear of anything you don’t cook yourself from scratch at home. In most cases, it will be filled with chemicals, additives and preservatives. Fast food and processed meats like sliced ham and turkey, and hot dogs, should definitely be off the menu.


If you are overweight, slim down to a healthy weight
Use the Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm
to determine your current BMI. If you are not at a healthy weight already, use the charts to determine what a healthy weight would be given your height and bone structure, and make that a target to aim for.

Add more plant-based foods to your diet
These foods are filling, low in calories in fat, and high in nutrition, especially if you aim for super foods such as broccoli, kale, spinach and sweet potatoes, and apples, berries and cranberries, such as dried raisins to satisfy your sweet tooth. Many people go vegetarian or vegan for health reasons.

Exercise more
A combination of low calorie foods and high levels of physical activity are sure to help you lose weight and keep it off. Consider a walking program of 10,000 steps a day. Wear a pedometer-every step counts. Add yoga twice a week for 30 minutes and you should stay lean and trim.

Avoiding lots of chemicals in your personal care products, household cleaners and so on
Consider creating your own natural versions of these at home using pure Castile soap, lemon and other wholesome ingredients.

Avoid hormones
If you are of childbearing years, don’t take the birth control pill. If you are going through menopause, steer clear of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Some cancers have a hormonal component.

https://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/body-mind-spirit/cancer/breast-cancer/

The Importance of Breast Cancer Awareness

Every October, we start seeing pink everywhere. Women enroll in breast cancer walks, wear pink ribbons, and even the men get in on the act, with the National Football League wearing pink towels and sports shoes. October has been designated Breast Cancer Awareness month. The question is, how aware are you of breast cancer?

What is it?

Breast cancer is the formation of cancerous cells in the breast. If it is not caught early, it can spread to the lymph nodes of the immune system and beyond to other parts of the body, including, lung, liver, bone and brain.

What are the symptoms?

There are a number of key ways to prevent breast cancer, including:

• Breasts that are not the usual size, shape, and color
• A swelling or odd-looking bulging in the breast
• Dimpling or puckering of the skin
• An inverted nipple, that is, one which stick in rather than out
• A nipple that has changed location
• Redness, soreness, rash
• Peeling skin around the nipple

How can it be prevented?

• Adding more exercise and activity to your day
• Avoiding alcohol
• Not smoking cigarettes
• Not using hormonal contraceptives, but rather, other alternatives such as condoms, a diaphragm or IntraUterine Device (IUD)
• No childbirth
• A late first live birth, such as over the age of 30
• No breastfeeding
• Obesity, especially after menopause
• Not using hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) for menopausal symptoms
• Avoiding getting too much radiation from X-rays or other diagnostic tests that use radiation
• Eating a healthy diet, which includes plenty of fruits and vegetables and high quality protein, such as salmon, tofu and kidney beans.
• Avoiding processed foods, red meat and cow milk that is not organic. Not eating charred or grilled red meat.
• Avoiding lots of chemicals in your personal care products, household cleaners and so on-consider making your own natural versions of these at home
Are there other things I can do to stay healthy in relation to breast cancer?
There are several other ways to stay on top of your breast cancer health.

Breast self-exam
The Know your Lemons campaign has become a huge success in getting women to become more breast cancer aware and learn how to give themselves exams.
https://www.worldwidebreastcancer.org/
Examine yourself regularly, such as once a month.

Regular doctor’s appointments
Regular doctor’s appointments are important for getting a clinical breast exam from your doctor to confirm anything you might find in your own self-exam, or pick up anything you might have missed.

Mammograms
Mammograms are a fairly reliable way to detect breast cancer, though they are not 100% fool-proof. Mammograms use small doses of radiation to scan the breasts for any irregularities or tumors. They do use radiation, so some people are concerned that mammograms might actually cause cancer.

Another issue is that these tests have to be administered by humans and assessed by them, which means there is room for human error. The machines have to be calibrated correctly and the test administered properly. Up to 25% of mammograms might result in recalls, which can be very upsetting.

There can also be false positives, leading to unneeded treatment, or false negatives, telling women they are in the clear when they actually have early grade cancer.

Genetic testing
Some breast cancer has a genetic component, that is, it runs in families. Get a BRCA test to determine whether you have the gene mutation that might make it more likely for you to develop cancer.

Be an advocate for women’s health. Share what you learn with the help of this free kit: https://healthfinder.gov/NHO/PDFs/OctoberNHOToolkit.pdf
and help women prevent breast cancer, or detect it early, when it is easier to treat it successfully.

The Importance of Early Detection with Breast Cancer

In many cases, the sooner a health problem is discovered, the more likely it is for the patient to have a better outcome or prognosis. This is certainly true of breast cancer. The earlier it is detected, the better the treatment and chance of a good outcome. The longer it has not been detected, the more chance it has to advance to the point where it can’t be treated effectively.

Detecting breast cancer early
There are a number of ways to detect breast cancer early.

Self-examination
Being breast cancer aware and checking your breasts once a month will help you establish a baseline of what is typical. Your breasts change throughout your monthly cycle, so check them a week before or week after your period. Report anything unusual to your doctor.

Clinical breast examination
Your doctor will have extensive experience in examining women for breast cancer. This exam should be part of your regular checkup. It might also be as part of a follow up visit with your doctor to confirm what you think you might have found during a self-exam.

Mammography
Mammography uses small amounts of radiation to scan the breasts to try to detect any cell abnormalities, cysts or tumors. It can be part of a regular well-woman routine, along with other diagnostic tests. Or it might be recommended in order to follow up on something that might have been found during a manual breast exam.

Ultrasonography
Ultrasonography uses sound waves to bounce off the breast tissue. Any dense item such as a tumor will appear differently from the normal breast tissue.

Thermography
Thermography creates a heat profile of the breast. Tumors appear in different colors from the other parts of the breast.

MRI of the breast
MRI, that is, magnetic resonance imaging, uses a magnetic field to detect changes in the body such as tumors.

Biopsy
A biopsy is a test in which a sample of suspicious breast tissue is removed and examined under a microscope. It is usually drawn out of the breast using a fine needles. Depending on the results of the biopsy, other tests and further examinations will follow.


Blood tests
Blood tests can sometimes indicated cancerous activity in the body.

Lumpectomy or mastectomy
If a lump is found, the doctor might remove it, or the entire breast. This will usually depend on the size and appearance of the tumor. The tumor will then be examined to determine the stage of the cancer.

In addition to the tumor, the doctor might remove one or more lymph nodes from the chest and/or the underarm of the affected side to determine if the cancer has spread to these important parts of the immune system.

In some cases they might also take a sample of the liver to see if the cancer has spread that far.

Staging breast cancer
Once the doctor has conducted all the tests and ruled out a tumor, or found a tumor, they will stage the breast cancer, that is, classify it. This is usually done with the TNM classification system:

T=Tumor
N=Nodes
M=Metastasis, or spread to the liver or other organs.

If the tumor is small, has not affected the lymph nodes and has not spread elsewhere, it will be a Stage 0. If it is larger, and has gone to a number of nodes, it will be given different stages, up to Stage IV, which is a large tumor which has affected multiple lymph nodes and spread as well.

The treatments for Stage 0 will be much less extensive than for any other stage of cancer. There are some treatments for Stage IV breast cancer, but most of the time, the goal will not be to cure the cancer. Rather, it will be to try to stop it from spreading any further, and making the patient as comfortable as possible in the time they have remaining.

Therefore, if you have not been paying attention to your breast health, now is the time to start.

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/screening-tests-and-early-detection.html

13 Simple Steps to Prevent Breast Cancer

Every Western woman has about a 1 in 8 (12%) chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime (as compared with Asian and African women, who have only a 4% chance), so most sensible women might wonder if there are steps they can take to prevent breast cancer.

New research is emerging all the time which points to important lifestyle changes a woman can make to lower her risk. While it is true that breast cancer does have a genetic component, with about 5% to 10% due to a faulty gene, it is also true that a healthy lifestyle can offset some of this risk. You are not doomed to have breast cancer, but it will be a good idea to learn as much as you can to try to stay healthy.

Look at your family tree
Having one or more close relative such a mother, sister or aunt with breast cancer might give you a clue you are more at risk because of your genes.

Get tested
There are simple and inexpensive tests to determine if you have a faulty BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, in which case, you would be more prone to breast cancer, and also ovarian cancer. Based on your results, you could then discuss the most logical treatment plan with your doctor.

Most breast cancers occur in women who have gone through menopause. Angelina Jolie made the decision to get tested in her mid-30s, and then have both breasts and her ovaries removed in order to try to prevent both of these cancers. Her mother had had both before she died at a young age, so Jolie decided to try to increase her chances of living a long, normal life in a rather radical way.

This is not a decision anyone would take lightly, but getting ‘pre-cancerous findings’ through screening tests made this seem like the logical personal choice for her.

Give yourself regular breast self-examinations
Learn how to give yourself a proper exam and do it once a month. Schedule 15 minutes on your calendar in the week before or the week after your period to give yourself the exam.

Enlist your partner’s help
Teacher your partner or spouse what to look for. In many cases, they have been the ones who noticed ‘something different’ that was worth checking out.


Follow up with your doctor
If you find anything of concern, go to your doctor for a follow up. They might determine there is nothing to worry about, or recommend further tests.

Go for mammograms
If your doctor suspects something might be forming, they will recommend a mammogram. Otherwise, all women should have mammograms according to the current suggested guidelines:

Women ages 40 to 44
Start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms if they wish to do so and if they have a family history.

Women age 45 to 54
They should get mammograms every year.

Women 55 and older
They should have every 2 years, or can continue yearly screenings if they wish if they are especially concerned, such as due to a history of breast cancer in the family.

Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health, and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.
https://www.cancer.org/healthy/find-cancer-early/cancer-screening-guidelines/american-cancer-society-guidelines-for-the-early-detection-of-cancer.html

Stop smoking
This is one of the best things you can ever do for your health.

Stop drinking alcohol
It has been linked with several forms of cancer.

Stop eating red meat
It has been lined with several forms of cancer, especially if it is grilled or charred.

Eat a healthy plant-based diet
Going vegetarian or vegan has been shown to be protective against breast and other forms of cancer.

Watch your weight
Breast cancer is more common in obese women, especially those who have gone through menopause.

Work out more
Exercise is protective against most diseases and keeps the weight down.

Avoid hormones such as birth control pills, and hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
Some cancers thrive on hormonal activity.

Prevention is far better than a cure, so follow these simple steps to better breast health.

Increased risk for breast cancer tumors due to sugar in western diets

For those among you consuming lots of sugar (don’t we all?) it’s about time to seriously reconsider that bad habit for sugar not only impacts your (over) weight but it has now also been identified as increasing the risk for breast cancer among other things, here’s part of a news release from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center about this discovery:
MD Anderson study in mice points to sugar’s impact on inflammatory pathways as culprit

The high amounts of dietary sugar in the typical Western diet may increase the risk of breast cancer and metastasis to the lungs, according to a study at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

The findings, published in the Jan. 1 online issue of Cancer Research, demonstrated dietary sugar’s effect on an enzymatic signaling pathway known as 12-LOX (12-lipoxygenase).

“We found that sucrose intake in mice comparable to levels of Western diets led to increased tumor growth and metastasis, when compared to a non-sugar starch diet,” said Peiying Yang, Ph.D., assistant professor of Palliative, Rehabilitation, and Integrative Medicine. “This was due, in part, to increased expression of 12-LOX and a related fatty acid called 12-HETE.”

Previous epidemiological studies have shown that dietary sugar intake has an impact on breast cancer development, with inflammation thought to play a role.

“The current study investigated the impact of dietary sugar on mammary gland tumor development in multiple mouse models, along with mechanisms that may be involved,” said co-author Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., professor of Palliative, Rehabilitation, and Integrative Medicine. “We determined that it was specifically fructose, in table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, ubiquitous within our food system, which was responsible for facilitating lung metastasis and 12-HETE production in breast tumors.”

Cohen added that the data suggested that dietary sugar induces 12-LOX signaling to increase risks for breast cancer development and metastasis.

Read on

New Drugs Prove More Effective in Treatment of Kidney Cancer

Good news from the cancer treatment front: The New York Times just published an article about a new study which you can find here below:

New studies of two drugs, showing that each works better than the standard treatment for advanced kidney cancer, should lead to changes in patient care, researchers said on Friday.

One study, of the drug nivolumab (sold as Opdivo), was stopped ahead of schedule because safety monitors found that patients receiving the drug were living longer than those in a comparison group taking the usual treatment, everolimus (sold as Afinitor). The study was halted for ethical reasons, to offer the comparison group nivolumab.

The other drug, cabozantinib (sold as Cometriq), was also tested against everolimus, and proved more effective at slowing the cancer’s growth. But that study has not gone on long enough to determine whether cabozantinib also prolongs survival.
Continue reading the main story
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M. Dennis Sisolak, 72, whose cancer had spread, underwent experimental treatment at Johns Hopkins that allowed his immune system to fight rather than take drugs.
Breaking Through Cancer’s ShieldOCT. 14, 2013

Dr. Robert J. Motzer, one of the leaders of both studies, said the findings on nivolumab were a major advance that would change the field and affect most patients worldwide with advanced kidney cancer. Dr. Motzer specializes in kidney cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

About 61,560 new cases of kidney cancer, and 14,080 deaths, are expected in the United States in 2015, according to the American Cancer Society. Exact causes are not known, but risk factors include smoking, certain chemical exposures, obesity, high blood pressure, genetic mutations and heredity.

Since 2005, Dr. Motzer said, seven new drugs have been approved for kidney cancer. Before that, patients with advanced disease lived 10 to 12 months on average, but the drugs brought survival up to about 30 months.

Dr. Padmanee Sharma, the senior author of the nivolumab study, from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, said, “We think this gives patients renewed hope.”….

Read on at this link

Can a daily dose of aspirin cut the risk of cancer?

Here’s a surprising news item which is certainly worth looking at for the risk of getting the big C seems to be on a lot of people’s minds these days:
A daily dose of aspirin appears to cut the risk of a common type of cancer

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, and researchers say they have found a way to reduce one’s risk of it by up to 45% – by taking aspirin, Advil, Motrin, Aleve or certain other painkillers.

A new study finds that people who took 75 to 150 milligrams of aspirin every day for at least five years were 27% less likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer than people who didn’t. (A tablet of regular Bayer aspirin, for instance, contains 325 mg of aspirin. The low-dose version designed to reduce the risk of a recurrent heart attack of stroke contain 81 mg of aspirin.)

Other types of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, appeared to reduce the risk even more. People who took non-aspirin NSAIDs for at least five years were 30% to 45% less likely to have colorectal cancer than those who didn’t take the painkillers. Ibuprofen (the active ingredient in Advil and Motrin, among others) and naproxen (the active ingredient in Aleve) are two examples of this type of NSAIDs.

Previous studies have suggested that regular use of aspirin or other NSAIDs may help protect against colorectal cancer. But the studies didn’t provide clear answers on the ideal dose to see a protective effect or how long someone would need to take it.

So the researchers turned to data from Denmark to find 10,280 adults from the northern part of the country who were diagnosed with colorectal cancer between 1994 and 2011. For each patient, the researchers also identified 10 “controls” – adults who shared the same birth year and gender and lived in the same area but did not have colorectal cancer.

Read more at this link

Did researchers find a way to halt cancer cell growth?

Big news from the famous Mayo Clinic this week  and while it’s still early,  this could lead to the end of chemotherapy and other difficult treatments.

Researchers at Florida’s Mayo Clinic may have found a way to turn off the rapid growth of cancer cells by reprogramming them to replicate less quickly. It’s being hailed as a breakthrough in cancer research and one that could lead to new treatments that halt or even reverse tumor growth — if they can apply it to cells outside the lab.

Initial experiments are promising. Using aggressive breast, lung and bladder cancer cells, researchers were able to flip a switch that turned the cancer cells back into normal cells by restoring the function that prevents overgrowth.

A little Biology 101 for those who might have skimmed over that chapter in high school: All cells need to replicate to replace themselves. But cancer cells go haywire, replicating excessively until tumors are formed. In healthy cells, microprocessors tell the cells when to stop dividing, but this function is missing in cancer cells. Researchers found that they could inject these microprocessors directly into the cancer cells to restore the function and essentially put the brakes on cancer cell growth.

So far, the experiments have only been conducted on cancer cells in the lab, but researchers believe that if they can duplicate these results in humans, it could eliminate the need for harsh chemotherapy or other cancer drugs. It could mean that cancer growth and development could be halted — or even reversed…

Read more at this link