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Health Protocols

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the second-most-common cancer among American women, behind only skin cancer (NCCN 2016; U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group 2017). About 250,000 women in the United States are diagnosed each year (ACS 2017a).

Although breast cancer research receives enormous funding from public and private sectors, much of the money goes toward studies on prevention and early detection. Thus, treatment options for women with breast cancer have not advanced dramatically in some time. Interventions that form the basis of most breast cancer treatment regimens today—surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and hormone therapy—were fine-tuned from the 1980s into the early 21st century, leading to marginal outcome improvements. However, few true breakthroughs have emerged (Zurrida 2015).

But promising recent research may soon change the breast cancer treatment paradigm. For instance, immunotherapy—in which the body’s immune system is leveraged to fight cancer—has dramatically improved treatment options for other types of cancer, and results from early trials in breast cancer are promising (Solinas 2017). Many immunotherapy clinical trials are underway, paving the way for this new frontier in cancer treatment, and women with breast cancer may be able to participate in this research.

Other advances in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment are emerging as well. For instance, Oncotype DX and MammaPrint are two recently developed tests that check for molecular changes in tumor tissue and help patients and their medical team fine-tune their treatment plans (Nicolini 2017; Gyorffy 2015).

In addition, intriguing findings suggest off-label use of some cholesterol-lowering statin drugs (including atorvastatin, lovastatin, and simvastatin) may improve chances of survival for women with breast cancer (Liu 2017). And the first-line anti-diabetic drug metformin has shown some promising effects in breast cancer patients, even among non-diabetics (DeCensi 2015; Ko 2015).

Furthermore, several natural interventions and dietary considerations may benefit women with breast cancer (Li 2017). For instance, above-average dietary intakes of selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, or lignans have been associated with better outcomes in women with breast cancer (Harris 2012; Khankari 2015; McCann 2010), and drinking more than three cups of green tea per day has been associated with reduced breast cancer recurrence (Bao 2015).

In this protocol, you will first learn how breast cancer is typically detected and treated. Next, you will learn about compelling novel and emerging treatment strategies currently being tested in clinical trials. The latest recommendations and research on dietary and lifestyle considerations are summarized, highlighting the value of exercise and a diet rich in fruits and vegetables (Heitz 2017; Runowicz 2016). Lastly, you will learn about natural interventions that may improve the body’s ability to fight this disease and manage side effects of conventional treatments (Sinha 2017; Zhang, Haslam 2017; Limon-Miro 2017; Yao 2017).

Note: this protocol should be reviewed along with other relevant, cancer-related protocols: