Breast cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer death in the world, responsible for more than half a million deaths each year. While most people think breast cancer only affects women, men can also develop breast cancer, and survival rates are the same for both sexes.
Causes of Breast Cancer
There are many types of breast cancer, and all originate from within the breast tissue itself. The two most common are ductal carcinoma, which involves the milk ducts in the breast, and lobular carcinoma, involving the structures that supply the ducts with milk.
Some breast cancers are sensitive to the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which occur naturally in the body. These cancers rely on the presence of these hormones to grow, multiply, and spread to other areas of the body through a process known as metastasis. Research also indicates there is a strong genetic factor in the development of some types of breast cancer.
Risk factors that have been associated with the development of breast cancer include:
- Gender and age: Women are much more likely than men to develop breast cancer, and breast cancer occurs more often in older women
- Family history of breast cancer, uterine cancer, colon cancer, or ovarian cancer
- Personal history of cancer, especially breast cancer
- Lifestyle habits, including high levels of alcohol consumption, smoking, high-fat diet, and sedentary lifestyle
- Menstrual cycle: Women who began menstruating before age 12 or who go through menopause after age 55 are at an increased risk for breast cancer
Some drugs and medical treatments, including endocrine disruptors, hormone replacement therapy, and radiation have also been associated with a higher risk of breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Diagnosis
In its early stages, breast cancer usually does not cause any symptoms, making regular breast exams essential. Symptoms that are most often noted include a hard lump in the breast or underarm area that does not hurt when light pressure is applied, and which usually has uneven edges. Some individuals may also note a change in the size or shape of the breast or nipple area, which may appear red or dimpled, as well as a discharge from the nipple. Mammograms are the most common medical diagnostic tool used to diagnose breast cancer.
Alternative Breast Cancer Treatment
The treatment options for breast cancer depend upon the type of cancer an individual has and whether or not it is influenced by hormones. Patients who have hormone-dependent cancer and who are considered low-risk may be successfully treated with drugs and radiation, while individuals at higher risk may be treated surgically first, and then treated with hormone therapy. Cancers without a hormonal component are treated more aggressively, usually with surgery to remove the tumors, and then with chemotherapy with or without accompanying radiation.
Insulin Potentiation Therapy, or IPT, is a low-dose chemotherapy treatment program that is also effective in helping to treat cancer patients with fewer side effects than conventional chemotherapy. Gentle Wellness Centers may prescribe these services to you depending on your diagnosis as part of a comprehensive alternative breast cancer treatment program.
In addition to medical treatments, many individuals with breast cancer, as well as those with increased risk factors for developing the cancer, may benefit from alternative breast cancer treatments that include lifestyle changes to thwart the development of the tumor cells.
Changes in diet and exercise, vitamin and herbal supplements to promote health and strengthen immunity, as well as meditation and other activities designed to decrease stress, may also help with both the recovery and prevention processes. The Gentle Wellness Centers alternative cancer treatment center physicians maintain the importance of treating the whole patient.