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Breast Cancer

Over the last few decades, breast cancer has become a major concern for women of all ages. As with any health issue, it is important to gather as much information as possible in order to make an educated decision. Within these pages Project AWARE provides basic direction to information about breast cancer and its effect on womens' health. (Links that go to other websites will open in new windows.)

Early detection

One woman in eight either has or will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. The earlier breast cancer is found, the better the chances that treatment will work. If detected early, the five-year survival rate exceeds 95 percent.

Mammogram - Among the best early detection methods, a mammogram is recommended every one to two years for women in their forties by the National Cancer Institute and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Here's a thorough explanation about what a mammogram is, why women should have it and more. A recent report published in Cancer confirms: Annual Mammograms in Women over 40 detect earlier, smaller breast cancers (view at Medscape with free registration)
Breast thermography Not intended to replace mammograms, breast thermography has the ability to warn women up to 10 years earlier than any other procedure that a cancer may be forming; thus allowing for prompt and timely treatment. Breast provides information on this method, risk assessment, breast cancer, early detection, prevention and ultimately the preservation of the breast and the survival of women.
Clinical breast exam - An exam of your breasts by a health professional such as a doctor, nurse practitioner, nurse, or physician assistant: Every three years for women between the ages of 20 and 39. The American Cancer Society has published new recommendations for self- and clinical breast examinations at earlier ages, mammography for older and higher-risk women, as well as for new technologies, according to an 2003 article published in the society's May-June issue of CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
Breast self-exam (BSE)  - The American Cancer Society website provides specific instructions on how to examine yourself and how often to perform the exam. Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation offers a nice flash presentation about how to perform a breast self exam—a visual lesson.
Breast biopsy - explains in a clear way for those facing the uncertainties of biopsy or the spectre of breast cancer, including a biopsy procedure called mammotome.

Hormone replacement and breast cancer

Progesterone protects against breast cancer - An article from "Hormones Without Fear" by Ivy Greenwell shows how progesterone appears to be a very special "guardian angel" hormone custom-designed by evolution to keep women free from endometrial and breast cancer.
Potential benefits of progesterone - See what Jane Murray, MD and our Progesterone FAQ say about the potential benefit of natural progesterone on breast tissue.
HRT, progesterone, and cancer - Progesterone belongs in your body, does not negate estrogen's beneficial effect on lipids like progestins do, and actually increases bone density. "Avoid natural progesterone? If I were a woman, that would be the last thing that I would think about doing," says Donald Michael, MD in his answer to the question Does combining of estrogen and progestin significantly increase the risk of breast cancer?
Hormone Therapy Possibilities for Breast Cancer Survivors and Women at High Risk for Cancer - Pete Hueseman RPh, PD, Consultant Pharmacist offers advice and explanations to help women decide what might be best.
Testosterone's Impact on Postmenopausal Women and Breast Cancer - Janna Gordon, RPh, Consultant Pharmacist reviews whether testosterone should be used as supplementation in postmenopausal patients.

Drugs and breast cancer

Tamoxifen: Questions and Answers, a comprehensive resource from the National Cancer Institute, Cancer Facts
Tamoxifen - Tamoxifen for Prevention of Breast Cancer: Is It For You?, an explanation by Paul Hueseman, RPh, PharmD
Chemotherapy -  Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer: New Regimens, New Drugs, and New Formulations by Joseph A. Sparano, MD - From the 24th Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, available at Medscape (You must register to access this material, but it is free.)
Aromatase Inhibitors - Aromatase Inhibitors for Breast Cancer: A New Gold Standard? by Harold J. Burstein, MD, PhD - From the 24th Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, available at Medscape (You must register to access this material, but it is free.)

Books and articles

"What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer: How Hormone Balance Can Help Save Your Life" - In this new book, John R. Lee, MD, and David Zava, PhD, explain treatment options—including strategies to lower risk and help stop this devastating disease—that doctors may not be telling you about.
"Keeping aBreast: Ways to Stop Breast Cancer" - This book by Khalid Mahmud, MD provides the reader clear strategies to reduce the risk of breast cancer, strategies that are based not only on his experience as an oncologist but also on an extensive review of scientific literature.

Dealing with breast cancer: Personal Stories

Always get a biopsy!
Appreciate every single day...
Early detection (of Paget's disease of the breast) saved my life
Turning Breast Cancer Into Something Positive

Other resources

American Cancer Society presents everything you need to know to cope with cancer and its effects.
Breast Cancer Action carries the voices of people affected by breast cancer to inspire and compel the changes necessary to end the breast cancer epidemic.
Breast Cancer Action Nova Scotia was formed to voice the concerns and needs of women affected by breast cancer. - Breast Cancer Care & Research Fund: mission to improve the level of care and the quality of life for breast cancer patients through providing the most up-to-date, authoritative information possible. This organization believes that better breast cancer education will empower women to seek an earlier diagnosis and understand the pros and cons of their treatment options. Publishes monthly reviews of the science behind breast cancer news in English and Spanish
CDC - National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) This program within the Center for Disease Control builds the infrastructure for breast and cervical cancer early detection by supporting public and provider education, quality assurance, surveillance, and evaluation activities critical to achieving maximum utilization of the screening, diagnostic and case management services. To learn more about a new program that helps pay for breast cancer treatment for women in need, you can view this page or call 1-888-842-6355.
Cancer Care is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to provide free professional help to people with all cancers through counseling, education, information and referral and direct financial assistance. This page covers breast cancer.
Cancer Clinical Services Quality Assurance Project (QAP) features clinical tools, including breast diagnostic algorithms and information on quality assurance issues, for primary care clinicians and other healthcare providers involved in the early detection and diagnosis of breast and cervical cancers. For patients, they offer a Breast Cancer Diagnosis & Treatment Guide in six languages. QAP is a collaboration between San Diego State University Graduate School of Public Health and the State of California Department of Health Services, Cancer Detection Section.
Community Breast Health Project is a clearinghouse for support and the latest information.
IACT (International Academy of Clinical Thermography) In response to the growing confusion regarding the current accepted role of thermography for use in breast cancer screening and detection, the International Academy of Clinical Thermology issues the following position statement:

"The proper role of thermography is not as a replacement for mammography."

Breast thermography is a complementary screening and detection procedure, which when added to a woman’s breast health examination substantially increases the sensitivity in detecting pathologies associated with the breast. As a unique physiological examination procedure, breast thermography is the only known test that can also serve as an early warning system by identifying women who have high-risk pre-cancerous infrared imaging markers. The procedure can also play a role in prognosis and as a method of assisting in monitoring the effects of treatment.

While thermography is far more sensitive than mammography, some slow growing non-aggressive cancers will only be detected by mammography. Thermography does not have the ability to pinpoint the location of a tumor. Consequently, breast thermography's role is in addition to mammography and physical examination, not in lieu of. Breast thermography does not replace mammography and mammography does not replace breast thermography, the tests complement each other."

National Cancer Institute offers comprehensive information about breast cancer.
National Lymphedema Network (NLN) provides education and guidance to lymphedema patients, healthcare professionals and the general public by disseminating information on the prevention and management of primary and secondary lymphedema. The latter can develop as a result of cancer surgery, radiation, infection or trauma.
Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation presents the ABCs of breast health and breast cancer with a searchable scientific A to Z guide on topics such as risk factors, diagnosis, staging, treatment, after treatment care and breast cancer financial and insurance issues.
Young Survival Coalition (YSC) is an international, nonprofit network of breast cancer survivors and supporters dedicated to the concerns and issues that are unique to young women and breast cancer. Through action, advocacy and awareness, the YSC seeks to educate the medical, research, breast cancer and legislative communities and to persuade them to address breast cancer in women 40 and under.

Page uploaded August 2002

Content updated December 2009











NOTE: Links to other websites will open in new windows. Closing those windows will return you to ProjectAWARE site for more exploration.






We Invite You To...
Share YOUR story about breast cancer—personal triumphs, opinions, observations, or whatever you think others might like, or need, to know.
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Note: Links to other websites will open in new windows. Closing those windows will return you to ProjectAWARE site for more exploration.
We Invite You To...
Share YOUR story about breast cancer—personal triumphs, opinions, observations, or whatever you think others might like, or need, to know.
See what others have submitted






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Updated 09/29/2010