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Breast Cancer: Traditional and Non-Traditional Treatments

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In the case of alternative treatments for any disease, it is recommended that you consult your physician before undergoing any non-traditional regimens.

While breast cancer in younger women is rare, it has been known to strike women as young as fifteen, but it’s most common in post-menopausal women. It can also occur in men. A breast cancer diagnosis is usually accompanied by myriad feelings and many questions. However, unlike twenty or even ten years ago, the disease is often treatable, especially if caught in the early stages.

Dr. Mary Li has been caring for cancer patients in Hernando County for twenty-one years. A member of the staff at Florida Cancer Specialists, Dr. Li is Board-Certified in medical oncology and internal medicine. She also studied hematology at the University of Louisville and has a PhD in pharmacology and toxicology.

Dr. Mary Li, Florida Cancer Specialists.

According to Dr. Li, there are various means of detecting breast cancer. The most important one is a self-exam. Women who are still menstruating should do the exam every month, a few days after their period ends. Post-menopausal women should do it once a month on the same day each month. Women over the age of forty need to get a mammogram at least once a year. If you do not have insurance and money is an issue, financial help is available.

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Dr. Li stated, “Sometimes ultrasound is done in addition to a mammogram to get a better look at the breast, especially for women with dense breast tissue or who have the breast cancer gene. If the woman does have this gene, doctors will usually recommend preventive measures which involve doing bilateral surgery [removing both breasts] and a complete hysterectomy.”

There are five stages of breast cancer. Stage 0 is when there are atypical cells in the lining of the milk ducts. Those cells have not spread but have the potential to become invasive. Stage 1 is confined to where abnormal cell division began and has not spread anywhere else. Stage 3 refers to cancer in the breast that has spread to nearby lymph nodes. In these three stages, the cancer is curable. Stage 4 is when the cancer has metastasized (spread to other organs).

There are many treatments for breast cancer, including a lumpectomy (removing just the tumors), removing one breast or a bilateral mastectomy. Along with surgery, chemotherapy is used either before or after the operation. Sometimes, radiation is administered. Hormonal therapy is used in some cases.

New treatments are being developed all the time. In fact, just recently, there have been promising clinical trials with Neoadjuvant Immunotherapy. This treatment uses the body’s immune system to fight the cancer and is done prior to surgery.

As with any disease or condition, a support network is extremely important to help patients deal with the disease. Florida Cancer Specialists and other oncology providers also have “navigators” that help patients with social and financial needs. Many providers help with co-pays and even give assistance with the patient’s electric bill or other monthly payments.

Along with traditional treatments, there are alternative treatments that many people turn to either in place of or in conjunction with traditional treatments.

Laura DeWitt founded Get Healthy Vitamins and Natural Foods 32 years ago and is the co-owner of the business along with Brian Mosser. They partner with many health professionals, such as acupuncturists, chiropractors and MDs. In their Brooksville and Spring Hill locations, they offer health assessments.

Laura DeWitt
Founder, Get Healthy Vitamins.

The practices they recommend include centering your diet around plants (preferably organic). Meats, fish and dairy products should be organic because the growth hormone estrogen is given to factory-farmed animals to make them grow or produce more milk. These environmental estrogens can cause cancer. Choose organic body care and cleaning products and get plenty of exercise.

Sleep well every night. According to DeWitt, a study showed that nurses who worked the night shift had a 50 percent increased risk of breast cancer, probably due to lower levels of melatonin and deep sleep.

One practice DeWitt recommends is regular thermography screenings with a skilled technician. Thermography can often show areas of unusual heat in the body, which can signal increased blood flow to a cell, indicating abnormal growth and a potential problem. “Thermography can often detect this cellular situation sooner than a mammogram when a tumor has already formed,” stated Ms. DeWitt.

Certain herbs and supplements can aid in treating cancer, according to DeWitt. There are now over 100 studies on curcumin alone in this oncological setting. Other herbal compounds that are used include Clinical OPC, a high extraction of small tannins from the French grape seed that has been shown to be a strong inhibitor of breast cancer cells and DIM, a concentrated extract from cruciferous vegetables. This works by providing beneficial estrogen metabolism away from the “super estrogens” that fuel cancer cell growth and towards healthy estrogen pathways, thus lowering the dangerous estrogen load that we are exposed to in our diet and our environment.

In order to mitigate the nausea that usually accompanies chemotherapy, natural alternative practitioners have experienced success using higher-potency ginger extracts in chewable or capsule form.

Just to show that there are proven effects to these supplements, many oncologists and integrative doctors are using herbal treatments or adjunct therapies.

Dr. Robert Martinez, a local chiropractor who has been practicing for seventeen years, also recommends alternative means to treat breast cancer. Through extensive study, it is his opinion that, although estrogen may be a contributor to cancer, there are several other contributors, such as toxins, chemicals, pollutants, and other carcinogen-driven products. He advocates a number of lifestyle choices that will work along with other methods to treat breast cancer.

Dr. Robert Martinez Chiropractor.

“When diagnosed with cancer, the first thing that must be avoided is all sugars. Secondly, avoid all processed foods high in carbohydrates, avoid metal and chemical-containing products such as deodorants, fluoride toothpaste and foods with additives. Eat clean proteins, vegetables and fruits,” Dr. Martinez stated.

According to Dr. Martinez, there are now integrative therapeutic alternative treatments that are being used to help with the side effects of conventional cancer treatments. These include massage therapy, light therapy, acupuncture, laser therapy, meditation and yoga.

“There are medical doctors who are more open to alternative approaches to treating cancer. Just make sure that the information that is being provided is accurate and it makes sense,” remarked Dr. Martinez.

“Referrals are the best way to find good doctors—word of mouth from other people who have experienced great results in cancer treatment. Just remember, due diligence is still required to ensure that the treating doctor meets your standard of care,” Dr. Martinez concluded.

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