Treating Breast Cancer Using Integrative Medicine
The American Cancer Society estimates that 26,730 Californian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis can be a very scary and devastating moment. It is common to feel lost and confused, particularly on how to navigate through the treatment options. Over the years, more and more women are turning to an integrative approach for their care. An integrative approach supports the use of conventional medicine, implements healthy lifestyle practices and promotes wellness of the whole person—mind, body and spirit.
POWER OF PREVENTION
A recent article published in JAMA Oncology suggests that in women, 41% of total cancers can be prevented by adhering to a healthy lifestyle. This is defined as:
- Smoked less than 5 years of life
- None or moderate alcohol drinking (1 drink per day for women)
- BMI of at least 18.5 but lower than 27.5
- Weekly aerobic physical activity (75 vigorous-intensity or 150 moderate-intensity minutes)
DECIPHERING DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT OPTIONS
A cancer diagnosis can be very overwhelming, and many people soon find themselves swimming in questions.
- “What are the side effects of my treatment options?”
- “What is the chance that my cancer will be cured?”
- “How likely are my children or family members to get cancer?”
- “What do these terms mean: ER, PR, HER2, triple negative, Stage 0, DCIS?”
Naturopathic doctors strongly believe in the principle “Docere” which means “Doctor as Teacher.” Having a clear understanding about the diagnosis, prognosis, treatment options and side effects can be very empowering for women.
COLLABORATING WITH HEALTHCARE TEAM
A common misconception about the role of alternative medicine in cancer treatment is that it is a substitute for conventional treatment. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Naturopathic doctors work TOGETHER with your team of healthcare practitioners to support your journey and improve quality of life during and after treatment.
There are many effective cancer support therapies that come from nature. In fact, one of the leading breast cancer chemotherapies, Taxol (Paclitaxel) is derived from the bark of the Pacific yew tree that grows in Pacific Northwest forests. Turkey tail mushroom (Trametes versicolor) is a natural therapy that has been demonstrated in the lab and in clinical trials to boost the immune system. Specifically, Turkey tail mushroom can augment conventional breast cancer therapies by increasing NK and CD8+ T Cell activity. Vitamin D3, melatonin, Omega 3 fatty acids and high dose IV Vitamin C are among other natural treatments that also help strengthen the immunity.
SQUASH THE SIDE EFFECTS OF TREATMENT
Whether you are undergoing surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or all of the above, naturopathic medicine includes a treasure chest of therapies that can help alleviate side effects. These symptoms may include: fatigue, neuropathies lymphedema, nausea, anxiety and depression. Herbs, vitamins and nutrients can be very supportive. In addition, there is strong evidence that mindful-based therapies such as meditation, yoga and Qi gong can improve quality of life during and post treatment.
SUPPORT BAY AREA’S BREAST CANCER AWARENESS
This weekend, cancer survivors and cancer survivors’ friends, families and caregivers will hit the streets of San Francisco to participate in the AVON 39. It is a 2-day, 39-mile event in which participants trek through the city to raise awareness. Proceeds raised will fund LOCAL Bay Area organizations that provide screenings, resources and conduct research. Last year’s beneficiaries include: Shanti Project, Women’s Cancer Resource Center and Zero Breast Cancer. Let’s help cheer them on!