In this concluding installment of this series we will look at the questionable use and safety of mammograms and mastectomies, the over-use of screening for breast cancer, the lack of real progress in breast cancer prevention and cure, some natural prevention and cures that do work, and some alternative charities and foundations which are not controlled by those who profit from and cause cancer.
Mammograms and the Dangers of Radiation
A study by researchers from the University of Nebraska and the John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County, Ill cast fresh doubt on the widespread assumption that regular mammograms save lives, showing that 2,970 women must be screened for breast cancer in order to prevent even one death.
"For a woman in the screening subset of mammography-detectable cancers, there is a less than 5 percent chance that a mammogram will save her life," wrote the researchers.
In 2001, a study known as the Cochrane analysis found that if 2,000 women underwent regular screening for 10 years, one life would be saved but another 10 women would undergo unnecessary treatment such as surgery or radiation. Noting that it was difficult to determine which cancers would have led to death or even symptoms in the absence of treatment, the researchers concluded that it is "not clear whether screening does more harm than good."
Few will debate the value of early screening and detection, but what most doctors will not tell you, and many are unaware of, is that there is a much safer and more effective tool for early screening: thermography. As was reported in Natural News last December, a breast thermogram has the ability to identify a breast abnormality five to ten years before the problem can be found on a mammogram. Furthermore, a thermogram does not use radiation, and can be done as frequently as anyone thinks is necessary. Thermograms work by creating infra-red images (heat pictures) that are then analyzed to find asymmetries anywhere in the chest and underarm area. Breast thermography detects patterns of heat generated by the increased circulation produced by abnormal metabolic activity in cancer cells. This activity occurs long before a cancer starts to invade new tissue.
Mastectomies – Prevention or Unnecessary Mutilation?
As a result of mammograms and MRI`s, many women, with the advice and consent of their doctors, opt to have radical mastectomies, which involves removal of one or both breasts along with underlying muscle tissue and lymph nodes under the arm. However, many researchers say that mastectomies are unnecessary for most women suffering from breast cancer.
Two studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2002 showed cutting out just the lumps of diseased tissue can save as many lives as removing the whole breast. Findings of the studies showed similar death rates after 20 years for large groups of women who underwent either mastectomies or breast-saving surgery.
A study of 1,851 women at the University of Pittsburgh found little survival differences between two similar groups. A similar study was done at the European Institute of Oncology in Milan where 701 women were split into two groups, one of which received mastectomies and the other had lumps removed and radiation treatment. About a quarter of each group died of breast cancer over 20 years.
According to researchers, survival does not depend on such surgery because breast cancer is fundamentally a systemic disease, not one that simply spreads from an initial site.
"Many women who could have undergone more narrow surgery have chosen mastectomies on the theory that you get it out, and you`re not going to have any trouble," stated Dr. Bernard Fisher, who led the Pittsburgh study.
The Dangers of Over-Screening for Cancer
A new analysis published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that screening for both breast and prostate cancer both have a problem that runs counter to everything people have been told about cancer: The screenings are resulting in finding cancers that do not need to be found because they would never spread and kill or even be noticed if left alone. That has in turn led to a huge increase in cancer diagnoses of innocuous cancers would have otherwise gone undetected.
At the same time, the analysis, "Rethinking Screening for Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer" also found that both screening tests are not making much of a dent in the number of cancers that actually are of a deadly variety. That could be because many lethal breast cancers spread rapidly and gain a foothold between mammograms. The deadly prostate cancers, on the other hand, have often already spread at the time of cancer screening. The dilemma for breast and prostate screening is that it is not usually clear which tumors need aggressive treatment. Many believe that a major reason that is not clear is because studying it has not been much of a priority.
"The issue here is, as we look at cancer medicine over the last 35 or 40 years, we have always worked to treat cancer or to find cancer early," Dr. Barnett Kramer, associate director for disease prevention at the National Institutes of Health, said. "And we never sat back and actually thought, ‘Are we treating the cancers that need to be treated?’ "
Finding insignificant cancers is the reason the breast and prostate cancer rates soared when screening was introduced, Dr. Kramer said. And those cancers, he said, are the reason screening has the problem called overdiagnosis – labeling innocuous tumors cancer and treating them as though they could be lethal when in fact they are not dangerous.
"Overdiagnosis is pure, unadulterated harm," he said.
Dr. Peter Albertsen, chief and program director of the urology division at the University of Connecticut Health Center, said that had not been an easy message to get across. "Politically, it’s almost unacceptable," Dr. Albertsen said. "If you question overdiagnosis in breast cancer, you are against women. If you question overdiagnosis in prostate cancer, you are against men."
The Lack of Progress behind the Pink Curtain
There has been a great deal of glad handing and back slapping in recent years over what has been announced as a slight downward trend in the occurrence of breast cancer as well as annual breast cancer deaths, though black women, whose cancer rates and deaths continue to climb, likely find little solace in the announced trend. When one peals back the veil of so-called progress, little credit can be given to the increased screenings and mammograms touted by so many of the breast cancer organizations. Instead, most of the credit is likely due to decreased use of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).
Further, when one subtracts the figures for DCIS, the much touted successes against breast cancer take on a complete different picture. DCIS, which stands Ductal Carcinoma in Situ, is viewed as a stage 0 cancer, and has a cure rate of almost 100%. At one time, DCIS was considered a pre-cancerous condition and was not included in cancer survival statistics.
Today, when we see 5 year survival figures of 96% quoted for localized breast cancers, those figures actually fall precipitously when the 60,000 annual DCIS diagnoses are removed. A truer look at cancer survival rates would be the 77% five year survival for women whose cancer has spread locally and the dismal 5-10% five year survival rates for those whose cancers have metastasized beyond the original region.
Though often equated as "cures" survival of five years does not indicate that anyone has beaten cancer and will live a cancer free normal lifespan. In fact, those who survive for five years frequently still have cancer and most of those who are cancer free can expect a return of cancer at some point in time. The average survival time beyond five years is a mere 26 months.
Regardless of the figures quoted, breast cancer remains the number one cancer killer for Hispanic women and the number two cancer killer for Black and Anglo women.
True Cancer Prevention and Cures
Meanwhile, while conventional funding continues down the same path of broken promises of imminent cures and breakthroughs that are just around the corner, the ways to avoid and beat cancer without harsh methods have been around for years. In particular, recent stories have detailed how an apple a day can keep breast cancer away and how vitamin D3 is essential at warding off and beating breast cancer.
In addition, in a recent year rodent study, researchers were unable to induce breast cancer in mice given adequate iodine, while they were able to induce the cancer in every mouse in the control grou
Latest posts by Tony Isaacs (see all)
- Powerful natural cold relief to help you feel better fast - December 10, 2015
- Study: Surprising brain health benefits of beet juice - November 30, 2015
- Combat cancer and ditch diabetes with 5 spice rack secrets - November 19, 2015