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Breast cancer

Research Helps Breast Cancer Patients Arm Themselves before Visiting Oncologists

Thursday, July 02, 2009 by: Barbara L. Minton
Tags: breast cancer, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) After a diagnosis of breast cancer, most women want to know where they fit into the statistics being quoted to them as reasons for submitting to the traditional toxic treatments being advocated by their oncologists. Scientists in China are helping to further this understanding through research revealing a statistical breakdown of which forms of breast cancer are the most deadly, and which may not be so dangerous. Any woman being pressured to accept chemotherapy, radiation, and follow-drugs can use these statistics to empower herself and more accurately assess where she stands.

In the study, the clinical-pathological characteristics of triple negative breast cancer were investigated.. This type of cancer is diagnosed when cells in the breast lack all three receptors: estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER-2).

Although these receptors can help fuel breast cancer growth in some cases, they are also indicative of less threatening cancers. Cells that are able to express these factors more closely resemble normal cells, while cells that cannot express the factors have lost resemblance to normal cells. When cancerous cells more closely resemble normal cells, they are more easily returned to a state of normalcy. The lack of receptors makes triple negative breast cancer one of the most deadly forms of cancer.

The researchers investigated the clinical-pathological profiles of 690 female breast cancer patients. 127 of these women were negative for estrogen and progesterone receptors and also negative for HER-2. They were therefore triple negative.

The research showed that the expression rate of a protein called p53 in the triple negative breast cancer patients was 71.42%, significantly higher than that of the non-triple negative breast cancer patient's rate of 42.56%. This p53 specific protein is produced by a gene that functions to suppress the growth of tumors, and is the most commonly mutated gene known in human cancer. Like other tumor-suppressor genes, p53 normally controls cell growth. If p53 is physically lost or is not functioning, cells may be permitted to divide without restraint. Women with high levels of p53 in their cells are at higher risk for cancer recurrence than women with low levels of p53. The buildup of p53 within a cancer cell is a sign that p53 is not working properly to suppress tumor growth.

The expression rate of epidermal growth factor receptor of the triple negative breast cancer patients was 59.74%, significantly higher than that of the non-triple negative breast cancer patients (22.06%).

The local lymph node metastasis rate of the triple negative breast cancer patients was 22.22%, significantly higher than that of the non-triple negative breast cancer patients (2.70%).

The 5 year and 10 year overall survival rates of the triple negative breast cancer patients were 79.76% and 63.15% respectively. These were both significantly lower than those of the non-triple negative breast cancer patients (88.59% and 83.28% respectively).

The 5 year and 10 year disease free rates of the triple negative breast cancer patients were 77.94% and 62.87% respectively, both significantly lower than those of the non-triple negative breast cancer patients (83.82% and 82.53% respectively). (Zhonghua Yi Xue Za Zhi, February)

Some breast cancers are highly threatening and some are not

What is normally termed breast cancer is really many different forms of cancer, all of which originate in the breast. Yet traditional disease establishment treatments tend to be generally the same for all women. There is little interest in viewing breast cancer patients or their types of cancer individually. Traditional treatments use a factory approach in which almost everyone is given the standard regimen of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and follow up drugs without regard to age, health status, diet, lifestyle, habits, psychology, or type of breast cancer.

These treatments are life altering events from which women never fully recover. Once a woman allows these treatments to begin, she has effectively given away her chance to ever achieve vibrant health again. During these treatments the organs and systems of her body will be compromised to the point of no return. Chemotherapy, the most toxic and deadly of all the treatments, is passed out to almost everyone because that's where the money is. Most oncologists earn the bulk of their large incomes from the sale of chemotherapy drugs administered in their offices.

During the initial visit to the oncologist, a woman is deluged with a stream of statistics she has no hope of grasping at a time when she is tense, frightened and intimidated. Yet the decision to begin chemotherapy or radiation is demanded immediately, under the threat that every minute counts. However, research has shown that it is not the immediacy of treatment or the size of the tumor that dictates outcome nearly as much as the type of cancer a woman has.

When a woman with breast cancer asks her surgeon or oncologist how long she has had the tumor in her body, she will most likely be told that no tumors were seen on her last mammogram but now the mammogram shows a tumor. The implication of such information is that the tumor is growing so fast that treatment must be begun immediately. But the reality is that breast cancers can take up to 20 years to grow to a size where they are detectable. Just because a woman had no evidence of a tumor on her last mammogram and now she has evidence of one does not mean the tumor is growing rapidly. It only means that the tumor has at last reached a size where it can be detected, a process that may have taken 20 years. Many breast cancers grow extremely slowly. There is no reason why a decision to submit to surgery, to be injected with poison, or to be radiated must be made without time to think it over and become better informed.

Take time to understand your disease before you make any decisions

Simply hearing that you have a diagnosis of breast cancer is not enough information on which to make any kind of life altering decision. If you have submitted to a biopsy your oncologist will have a copy of the lab report. It is your right to have a copy of that report, so ask for it. Take it home and study it. All terminology needed to understand the jargon can easily be found online. Remember that no one has the vested interest in your health and life that you do.

Women diagnosed with breast cancers that have not become invasive, known as ductal carcinoma in situ need to be aware that these cancers are not spreading to other parts of their body because the body's own mechanisms are keeping them in check. These cancers may completely disappear in time without any interventions whatsoever. Even cancers that are invasive may disappear without intervention. The rates of breast cancer in women were much lower until the invention of mammography which can detect them earlier. Did women magically increase their cancer rate at exactly the same time mammography was invented? This is highly unlikely. So what happened to all the breast cancers women were having all along? The only logical conclusion is that they were handled by the body's own defense systems.

Less threatening forms of cancer may more likely be dealt with effectively by the body's own defense systems. This means that the more a woman knows about the nature of her breast cancer, the better she is able to make an informed choice about the treatment or lack of treatment she is willing to undergo.

Understand your Nottingham Score

When studying your lab report you will probably find a Nottingham Score listed that reflects your test results on three different scales assessing how your invasive breast cancer cells look under a microscope. Each of the three components is assigned a sub-score of 1, 2, or 3. The sub-scores are added to arrive at the Nottingham Score. The lowest Nottingham Score is 3 (1 plus 1 plus 1), and the highest is 9 (3 plus 3 plus 3). The lower the score, the less deadly is the cancer. Consistent with the research findings discussed above, tumors with estrogen and progesterone receptors as well as those expressing HER-2 receptors tend to have lower scores, meaning they are less threatening. Most breast tumors fall into this category. Triple negative breast cancers tend to yield higher scores, meaning they are more threatening.

Probably the most important of the three Nottingham components is the one that reveals the number of cells in mitosis. As you probably remember from high school, mitosis refers to cell division. By knowing what percentage of cells in your biopsy was in mitosis, you will have a measure of the rate of growth of your cancer. In some cancers, especially those in women who have been using bioidentical progesterone cream, there are virtually no cells in mitosis. The cancer is just sitting there minding its own business and posing very little threat. Samples that reflect higher rates of mitosis mean the cancers are growing more quickly.

Understand the nature of statistics

Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of statistics knows that they can be made to say whatever the person using them wants them to say. Statistics are derived from samples, and because each person is very different from another in diet, age, general health, fitness level and so on, cancer statistics are merely estimates. Samples can be manipulated in many different ways to fit specific purposes.

For example, let's say a woman is told that because cancer cells were found in her lymph nodes, chemotherapy will improve her odds of living for another 5 years by 15%. What she is not told is what comprised the sample pool. Did this pool consist of all women who had any kind of positive cells found in their lymph nodes? If so, the sample pool consisted of women ranging from those who had a few cells squeezed out of their tumors by the excessive pressure of mammography during the diagnostic process, to women who had well established metastases throughout their lymph systems. Among other things a woman is not told is whether the pool contained all women with breast cancer or only those with receptor positive cancers. She is not being told the cell division rate of women in the pool. There is no information given in this statistic that is useful to an individual trying to make a determination about her life.

The statistical babble going on by oncologists is really not informative at all. It is actually just a sales pitch and an attempt to frighten and confuse at a time when you are most vulnerable. The cancer industry counts on the fact that people do not understand the nature of statistics and are confused and frightened by them. Oncologists know this and have been taught to use statistics to intimidate. If your oncologist seriously wanted to inform you of what was really going on, he would tell you that no matter how low or high your Nottingham Score, and no matter how many of your cells were in mitosis, he is going to do his best to convince you to submit to chemotherapy, radiation, and years of follow-drugs because that is how he makes his living.

Whether your cancer is the non-invasive in situ type, strongly or weakly expressing estrogen, progesterone or HER-2 receptors, or not expressing any receptors at all, he is going to try to convince you to submit to his treatments because that is the standard of care in America.

Many women who have had chemotherapy and radiation do not die of cancer. They die of the effects of these treatments. However, women who die from cancer treatments are not used in the statistical pools related to cancer deaths. For example, a woman who dies from liver or kidney damage following chemotherapy is counted as a liver or kidney related death, not a cancer death.

Take time to understand that cancer can be completely cured by building up the body, but not by tearing it down

Have the courage to tell your oncologist that you will not be rushed into making decisions about your health and your life. Tell your oncologist you will give him a call later if you decide to accept his treatments. Walk away from his office with your lab report in your hand and begin to learn about and understand your particular cancer and breast cancer in general. Once you have achieved knowledge and understanding, your fear will fall away.

Never before has there been such a wealth of information at your fingertips as there is now. Take the time and use this gift to learn about the treatments your oncologist is recommending. Realize that there are many other treatments available that will allow you to fully recover from your cancer with your organs and systems intact.

Take time to learn about the healing power of your own body. Realize that there is no other more potent healer on earth. Take time to understand that if you give your body and mind the support they need to achieve complete healing, vibrant health can again be yours.

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About the author

Barbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.

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