Survivors Need More Information
I am a breast cancer survivor, a medical professional, and a fierce advocate for ongoing post-treatment diagnostics for the prevention and timely detection of recurrence.
During the active phases of my treatment for breast cancer (ILC right) and DCIS left) and now in my recovery, my nursing experience led me to compare and contrast, through research, the contradicting information given by my medical providers regarding my diagnosis and treatment options, clinically proven alternatives, and managing my health to subsequently prevent recurrence.
Unfortunately, my oncology team provided no information on the latter subject and very little else otherwise that would lead me to restoring my energy, health, cognitive function and more.
My goal forward is to make exceptionally educated, not fear-based, decisions and choices for my life and health. I want to live to at least 100 years old and do so with strength, style, grace and confidence.
Understanding The True Risk Of Recurrence
A breast cancer survivor needs adequate, regimented post-treatment diagnostics throughout their life to monitor for recurrence.
This does save lives, and otherwise, substantial length of days.
In my research, I discovered a very intriguing and concerning characteristic of cancer cells observed both during and after chemotherapy and radiation which is not routinely discussed with breast cancer patients: that is that fragmented lingering DNA particles from (treated) and dying cancer cells move into the bloodstream and lymphatic system and lie dormant in the body, with great potential to become activated anytime later from diverse sources of persistent and excess inflammation such as stress, dehydration, cell starvation (not enough nutrients), lack of oxygen to organs and organ systems, and other internal states that hinder or halt the body in regenerating and restoring itself. I do not address external factors in this article.
This information alone begs the need for drastic changes in the current standard of care for recurrence prevention for breast cancer survivors.
The Main Deterrence To Cancer-Free Recovery
The National Cancer Care Network, (NCCN) which steers current oncology guidelines, recommends against routine and continuous monitoring for breast cancer recurrence. Under the influence of this entity’s stance on women’s health, many lives globally have been and continue to be lost.
This is a major failure of the oncological community treating breast cancer.
Conversely, NCCN propagates the idea that “the stress of undergoing ‘unnecessary scans’ and (other diagnostics)” for post-treatment breast cancer patients outweighs the benefit of recurrence-detection focused testing and promotes the idea that “surveillance does not increase survival time.” I disagree. Read here.
If this were actually the case, why are we inundated with the idea that a recurrence is inevitable and expected, but not then followed up on to judiciously detect? (this mindset guides the primary diagnosis and our care plans). Again, if so, why are we led to believe that such aggressive treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, and aromatase inhibitors are actually as widely clinically successful as touted, if we are left with possible residual disease that will not be monitored until it has progressed significantly, despite treatments?
2023 NCCN Guidelines for Breast Cancer (pg. 23)
On screening for metastases:
“In the absence of clinical signs and symptoms suggestive of recurrent disease, there is no indication for laboratory or imaging studies for metastases screening.”
See this podcast giving NCCN guideline recommendation reasoning for not monitoring most survivors for recurrence. Please note that the statement “there is no clinical evidence for” means that little to no purposeful actions have been taken by NCCN, ASCO or other major oncological entities to aggressively pilot widespread clinical trials in which large, diverse groups of survivors are monitored for recurrence through systematic, long-term monitoring using diagnostic imaging and labs.
This is the problem. The medical community focuses primarily on using clinical data to create treatment plans, but if there is not enough stable and trustworthy clinical data (obtained through extensive research/trials and unbiased, non profit-minded clinicians who are not associated with Big Pharma), then a solid “recommendation” to not routinely follow clinically after treatment periods cannot be made.
This action was first necessary beginning in the early 1970’s (investigate further to see the 1950’s time period where cases began to markedly increase) when breast cancer cases began to substantially rise, according to researched data. Large scale global trials must be commissioned today, to make real strides in saving women’s lives.
The result would unequivocally catapult change, but inevitably also come with the pervasive argument of cost and loss of revenue from halting and preventing the mass cases of metastases we are seeing in most of the world. More on the issue of cost here.
Here are two statements (my third article on recurrence prevention will relay more) from a 2015 PubMed article addressing the concerns for the need for post-treatment diagnostics to catch early metastasis: (the first paragraph states the current standard).
“Current post-treatment surveillance guidelines for patients with treated breast cancer do not recommend intensive surveillance, such as routine chest radiography, bone scans, or laboratory tests, to evaluate distant recurrence or metastatic diseases.”
“Because isolated recurrences are associated with distant metastasis and/or poor outcome, early detection and targeted treatment for recurrences are critical to improve patient outcome.”
This article written in 2004 published in The Journal Of the National Cancer Institute, (focusing for that piece on mammograms) notes even then that the “absence of screening was associated with a markedly increased risk of late-stage disease among women with invasive breast cancer” and that “problems in detection account for 40% of the late-stage cases.”
This information sounds very scary and elicits a feeling of powerlessness in our ability to take control of our health and the quality and length of our lives, however, we can take charge of our lives and health through consciously employing even just a few tools available to us.
Effective, Natural Ways To Prevent Recurrence
Breast cancer post-treatment plans and teaching are almost non-existent. Survivors are left to investigate the realities of and alternatives for their diagnoses independent of clinical guidance. We need concrete information that will help us advocate for ourselves and know our options in preventing recurrence.
Powerful supplements are available, healing mindsets (new conscious way of living and thinking which actually produce hormone functions and neurotransmitter synapses that heal disease states in the body), and many other potent, successful ways of living and being that achieve renewed health and wellness. More importantly, that work to prevent (breast) cancer recurrence.
A first priority, and the most profound route to wellness and healing (which also create an marked absence of disease) is obtaining adequate sleep and rest. Read my associated article here on this topic.
Below is an easy to read list of simple tools to employ highlighting most of the options available in post-treatment scans and labs to ensure the following:
- a) that the treatment(s) you endured show drastic reduction or eradication of disease.
- b) you are educated on your alternatives to prevention and prevention of recurrence.
- c) that your providers continue to order everything available and appropriate for you (3D mammogram, MRI, PET should be a yearly standard) in your years of recovery to monitor your progressive healing and early detection of any regrowth.
Arm Yourself Against Breast Cancer Recurrence
- Vital diagnostics available
- Thorough hands on exam (clinical breast exam). Every follow up visit. Educate yourself on the expected thorough details of this exam.
- 3D Mammogram (if you did not receive a bilateral mastectomy) every 6 months first year after treatment ends, at least yearly, thereafter. Read here on the newest 3D/4D mammograms.
- Metabolic PET/CT-fdg (yearly) (see here) or
- MRI with contrast (detects cancerous tissue vs. normal tissue, but overall results, in most cases, inferior to PET) or
- CT with contrast (particularly highlights bone structure/changes and some soft tissue but, overall results, in most cases, inferior to PET, alone. MPET/CT is most-efficient.)
- liquid biopsies (ct-dna) yearly or upon the presence of new symptoms. (Because this is just emerging as a (soundly proven) diagnostic tool, few clinical studies recommending timeline protocols (how often to test) are available, but given the nature of discreet cancer cells, it is prudent to request yearly. See here to learn how to pay out of pocket for this test. This company is now contracted with MD Anderson for clinical trials for this powerful diagnostic tool.
- tumor markers and hormone levels (estradiol, FSH/LH etc.) best is every 3–4 months after treatment ends (and in some cases, some labs will be required during chemotherapy). These likely will migrate to every 6 months in the second to third year after treatment ends.
- Bone density (every 2 years)
- Bone scan with contrast (yearly is best preventative, but this is not standard, nor encouraged at all, without symptoms that confirm metastasis, even prior to scan.)
A “wait and see” attitude is fatal to many women. Allowing late symptoms to occur before scheduling diagnostics to confirm extensive or uncontrollable regrowth is never prudent or conducive to preservation of life. In reality, not judiciously monitoring the body and care with scans and labs in the recovery years can inevitably result in any regrowth of cancer taking control.
Breast cancer survivors must stay vehemently pro-active in reporting every new symptom or pain that cannot be explained by short term illness (viruses, colds, the flu etc.) or injury. Even in the presence of these incidents, any persistent pain or symptom needs to be addressed and investigated with thorough and effective diagnostics.
Be tenacious about your survival.
Supplements (in high levels) that act as aromatase inhibitors or have potent anti-cancer properties
2. Each of the following supplements has extensive research supporting their individual powerful anti-tumor functions.
- Melatonin; and read here.
- CoQ10; and read here and here
- Tumeric and read here
- Ashwaganda and read here
- DIM and read here and here
- Vitamin C and here
- Vitamin D and here
- Vitamin E and here
- Whole plant CBD: media has taken over in avidly suppressing the truth of the miraculous effects of taking CBD, and especially with CBG, and using RSO (contains THC). Researching this phenomenal plant is well worth your time. See Charlotte’s Web.
- European mistletoe and here; this article shows how to obtain it in supplements.
3. Mindsets (redirected thought patterns) that establish healing
You are created to live a long, healthy, life.
- No weapon formed against you will prosper. You have armour at your disposal.
- Your body is capable of healing itself and can be spoken to do so, each organ and organ system
- You can think yourself well, whole and fulfilled. Life begins and ends with the mind.
- Expect healing, because it is yours to begin with. We must take this action of expectation with utmost seriousness and implement ferociously.
- Keep a vibrant, open mind. This is the beginning step to changing your cells and disease processes in the body. See podcasts such as this one to acclimate to a new way of thinking about living to old age, despite your diagnosis.
- Deuteronomy 30:19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live.
4. Deep breathing exercises: adequate oxygen causes cancer cell death. This topic needs more research on the writer’s part and in clinical studies, but it’s also common sense to note that increased regular oxygenation in the body increases health and healing.
5. Fasting either weekly or just from dinner to breakfast shows a significant improvement in insulin levels, which increases the body’s resistance to disease. It is linked strongly to preventing cancer, both primary and secondary (recurrence).
Grounding: This is a simple, profound way of promoting healing and preventing (breast) cancer recurrence. Note, that to receive best advantage of this technique, 30–60 minutes daily is recommended. It is also a wonderful way to renew peace to the mind and the body.
To summarize, the majority of breast cancer survivors are not adequately educated by their oncology team of the real risks for recurrence and are not informed of what tests can and should be ordered routinely to monitor for recurrence, which ultimately would save many lives. The oncology field’s gross neglect and resistance toward monitoring breast cancer recurrence has been and continues to be fundamental in creating an environment of that recurrence through neglecting to prioritize our lives with necessary preventative diagnostics.
In closing, I suggest that breast cancer patients be prepared to face strong resistance from their oncology team in introducing any demand for post-treatment diagnostics and especially alternative (non-Western medicine) treatment choices. The cancer care system is not set up to efficiently observe, monitor and track disease recurrence. We must be be our own advocates in obtaining and implementing safer, Big Pharma-free alternatives to our health and especially in standing firm in our right to have thorough, routine scans and labs that will preserve our health and lives.
We need more answers and follow through if we are to effectively fight against recurrence-related deaths.
If this information is helpful to you, please see my first article on preventing breast cancer recurrence.