Planning Ahead for Cancer Treatment
When it comes to breast cancer risk, be proactive and understand prevention and treatment options, says Dr. Paul Stallone
Ask any woman which disease scares her the most, and odds are she’ll say breast cancer. Virtually every woman knows what’s associated with breast cancer: losing her hair, losing her breasts and losing her life. These three major thoughts surround the once unconceivable thought that breast cancer could actually occur. Whether it’s a lump detected during a self-exam or a re-do of an annual screening, anything that implies breast cancer can send the strongest woman into a panic attack. However, any fear can be used as a motivator by anyone with the right perspective.
Getting educated about a disease is fundamentally important, and obtaining a second opinion is a huge part of this. Speaking with multiple experts is a great way to learn about a potential disease. These experts should provide education and a treatment plan unique to the patient, and the therapies should be further researched at home before a resolution is made. Time is of the essence in the treatment of cancer, but there’s always time to make the right decision.
A big part of treatment is the type of cancer. Two factors are considered when categorizing breast cancer: if the disease has spread outside the breast, and what tissue the disease developed in. The original tissue site will determine how the disease behaves. Milk ducts and milk-producing lobules are the most common areas for cancer to affect, but the connective tissue (fat, blood vessels and muscle) can also be involved. That is less common and referred to as sarcoma.
Breast cancer also needs to be classified as either noninvasive or invasive. Noninvasive breast cancer is referred to as in situ, because it remains in the original location and has not spread to surrounding tissue. Invasive or infiltrating breast cancer has spread to another part of the breast or body. Within these two classifications are numerous subcategories, with treatment varying greatly between them.
Establishing the type of breast cancer is important, as is determining hormone sensitivity. This information will also influence which therapies are most appropriate. Some breast cancers are sensitive to naturally occurring female hormones like estrogen and progesterone. Hormone sensitive cancer cells will have hormone receptors for that particular hormone, with therapy reducing that hormone. In respect to hormone sensitivity, there can be three types. Estrogen receptor (ER) positive, progesterone receptor (PR) positive or hormone receptor (HR) negative, which will not have any receptors and won’t be affected by hormone-blocking treatments.
As cancer research evolves, more is being understood about the DNA of genes that can and do influence cancer development. There are tests available to analyze the genetic makeup of breast cancer, and although they can be helpful in some situations, not everyone will benefit. There are genetic tests available that can assess a woman’s risk for developing breast cancer before it does. It’s important to note that these tests do not guarantee one way or another whether breast cancer will or won’t develop.
Only after careful consideration of these factors and more should a complex treatment plan be formulated. A one-size-fits-all approach has no business in cancer treatment, and even one variable can completely change the program. A second opinion from a cancer-experienced naturopathic physician can simplify many options that are best for the patient.
Some breast conditions actually resolve on their own, but mistakenly get labeled as cancer. Natural treatments are not only superb at addressing all types of breast cancer, but they’re highly recommended for women looking to address a non-cancer breast condition. Natural therapies can even complement conventional medicine. Any woman diagnosed with breast cancer is urged to consult with a naturopathic physician before beginning any sort of treatment or invasive testing such as a biopsy.
Paul Stallone, NMD, founded the Arizona Integrative Medical Center, located at 8144 E. Cactus Rd., Ste. 820, in Scottsdale. He combines natural/alternative/conventional treatments to best fit and benefit each individual patient’s needs. For more information, call 480-214-3922 or visit DrStallone.com.