October Edition: Breast Cancer & Functional Medicine
Our staff at PIM welcomes the month of October and fall! October is not just the dawn of changing leaves, crisp air, and spooky decor, it is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We would like to lend PIM’s October blog posts to spread awareness about the disease in hopes to give our readers tools to understand the role integrative and functional medicine plays in Breast Cancer screening and prevention. In this week’s blog, we will cover an overview of what you need to know about breast cancer.
Breast cancer, like all cancers, arises when there is uncontrolled cell growth or too little cell death in the breast region. Both men and women are at risk for the disease, although it is more common in women than in men. Breast cancer often turns into multiple types of cancer. This is because of the breast’s close proximity to the lymph nodes of the under arm. Cancer cells can spread to the lymph nodes there and spread throughout the body from there.
Breast cancer is caused by genetic error, which could happen for a variety of reasons. Genetic mutations—when a gene sequence is changed from healthy to unhealthy—are what cause breast cancer. These mutations could occur due to age or environmental factors. Each of us also have genes specifically relating to breast cancer suppression called BRCA 1 & 2. Mutations in these genes can be inherited at birth. Individuals with inherited mutations are at a higher risk of developing cancer during their lifetime. Dense breasts also increase risk of developing breast cancer.
According to the National Cancer Institute, 1/8 women are at risk for developing breast cancer at some point in their lives. It is the second most common cancer in women after skin cancer. Women with family history, such as a mother, sister, or grandmother, with a history of cancer have a high risk of developing the disease.
Even those who are not genetically susceptible to developing breast cancer need to take precautions because of the way we live in modern society. We are constantly exposed to toxins through food and other daily life items. We are sleep deprived and live and work in high stress environments. If you can relate to any of it, which surely most of us can, you need to be aware and take precaution.
We know this is a heavy subject and you want to protect yourself and the ones you love most. At this point, you may be wondering what you can do to mitigate your chances of developing breast cancer. The cheapest and easiest way to check up on yourself right now is with a breast self exam. It is non-invasive, and something you can do on your own and periodically to keep tabs. We recommend this helpful video, which you can find here. Performing regular breast self exams allows you the chance to get familiar with your breasts so you can easily tell when something does not feel right. Mammography is another tool used to screen for breast cancer. It is actually the most common tool used for breast cancer screening. Although many doctors and researchers debate on how often screening mammograms should be performed, it is one of the best methods for early detection.
Genetic testing is another way to determine if you carry mutated BRCA 1 or 2 genes. This can be done through a blood or saliva test. Dr. Tetlow, offers an “Impact your Genetics” Program in our clinic. Although we do not specifically test for cancer genes, she can help you evaluate the pathways that may contribute to a risk for developing it.
If you are concerned you have breast cancer, we suggest you seek medical care immediately. We welcome you to our office for a Free 20 Minute Consultation to discuss if we are the best integrative provider to support you at this time, although, it can be challenging to engage in an integrative medical approach while undergoing active purely conventional cancer treatment. Please consult your oncologist to discuss whether integrative treatment support is an option for you.
Stay tuned for our upcoming blog, which will explain how certain environmental factors can affect your risk of getting breast cancer.
PIM wants to hear from you! Has breast cancer affected you or someone you love? Do you find this article helpful? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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If you or your loved one needs help, perhaps you are suffering from the effects of ongoing stress, mood or hormone imbalance, including thyroid imbalance, or you or they are already working with a doctor to address a condition but want a more comprehensive, empowering approach schedule your a 20 minute free consultation or an appointment with Lynda Sherland, RN, FNP-C today! Not quite ready to schedule and have questions,quickly get in touch with us today!