(Breast) Cancer Detection and Prevention

At the current rate, about 1 in 3 of us are to develop cancer in our lifetime.  And breast cancer is between the top two killers for women in the urban world.  So I should be concerned.  And at my age, I “should” be doing mammogram every year if I follow standard recommendation.

But I have not done it since the first one I did many years ago, and I am not planning on doing it again.

Here are some facts I have considered:

According to a study released in 2012 on New England Journal of Medicine, about 1/3 of of all tumuors discovered in routine mammography screenings are unlikely to result in illness.

The researcher actually found that mortality rate from breast cancer is lower in the group of women that were NOT exposed to mammography screening.  Interesting?

(Check out: http://articles.latimes.com/2012/nov/22/science/la-sci-breast-cancer-screening-20121122)

So that means if you do frequent mammogram screening, you increase your risk of getting breast cancer.  Then you can become a statistic to prove its efficacy!

A recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institutefinds that those women who follow the American Cancer Society’s guidelines for the early detection of breast cancer, namely, annual screening for women 40 or older, are not only receiving no additional protection against aggressive breast cancer, but are experiencing greater harm through increased rates of false positives and unnecessary biopsies.

They found that women who had more frequent mammograms (every year versus every two years) did not have a reduced risk of being diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer, as would be expected if mammograms actually were working to “find deadly breast cancer early” as widely claimed.

There is over 30% of over-diagnosis and over-treatment rate from mammography screening in the US.  That means, in the US, 70,000 women a year have their breasts either removed or disfigured, irradiated and then are treated with chemotherapy and/or hormone suppressive therapies for cancers that do not exist.  http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-204_162-57553587/mammograms-lead-to-breast-cancer-overdiagnosis-in-1-million-women-study-finds/

In the UK, for every woman saved, three women were over-diagnosed, and subject to unnecessary cancer treatment.

This is why I never support “Breast Cancer Awareness” initiatives that are focused on “early detection” by mammogram and invasive treatments.  No doubt there are people who have been saved by such early detection measures, I just believe we can be even more proactive in our prevention.

In my logic, true disease prevention is by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and emotional/mental balance, which is a lot more proactive, and can do no harm.  

Hippocrates says this about medicine, “First do no harm.”

Does it mean I don’t think you should do mammography screening?  I can’t make that decision for you.  I can only share my personal preference.

Not only are we encouraged to do invasive mammography as a cancer preventive, women are also encouraged to remove their breasts ahead of time to prevent dying young from breast cancer, which to me, is “extreme” – definitely more “extreme” than eating a healthy diet and managing stress, to avoid causing “cancer genes” to mutate into cancer.

Non-invasive early detection?

Try self examination! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsyE2rCW71o  (hot guys showing you how to check your breasts…)

And thermography, an FDA approved, painless, non-invasive and highly accurate breast cancer screening  procedure.

This is what Dr. Christiane Northrop (MD and noted author on women’s health) has to say about cancer detection –

“Mammograms and breast self-exams are screening modalities. But they don’t prevent anything. They just diagnose it earlier. And I’m convinced that this isn’t always such a great idea. For example, autopsy studies on healthy women in their 40’s who died in car accidents found that fully 40 percent of these women had evidence of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) in their breasts. This is not cancer, and in the vast majority of women, it will never become cancer. But DCIS is now picked up on at least 15 percent of the newer digital high-resolution mammograms. And it’s being called stage 0 breast cancer and often being over-treated with modalities that have significant side effects such as radiation, surgery, and tamoxifen. This leads everyone to believe that they “beat breast cancer because they caught it early enough.” I’ve said for years that there’s got to be a better way. And fortunately, there is! True prevention means changing the conditions in your body that might lead to cancer in the first place. And I’m happy to announce that we now have the technology that can do just that. It’s state-of-the-art thermography.”

Thermography is available in Hong Kong through The Body Group: http://www.thebodygroup.com/services/thermogram.html

I have yet to experience thermography myself.  But if someone wants to do a screening to give them peace of mind, then this is the only one I would recommend.

After the thermogram, the MD that will interpret the result will determine whether a mammogram is indeed necessary.  It means you can at least save the radiation exposure from “routine” health check.

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