Alternative Treatments for Breast Cancer
Breast cancer, according to the Canadian Cancer Society, account for about 26% of all new cancer cases in women, making it, by far, the most prevalent cancer in women with one-in-eight women getting breast cancer in her lifetime. Women detect about 90% of these cancers themselves, generally thought breast self-exams. Men, too, can get breast cancer but the risk is 100 fold in women. Traditional therapies for breast cancer continue to improve the prognosis of breast cancer, but alternative treatments for breast cancer also exist.
Early Detection of Breast Cancer
While “cancer” is always a scary word, with appropriate treatment, the five year survival rate is 85%. Early detection is key to having the most successful outcomes for breast self-examinations and annual gynecological physicals are critical. Moreover, many health authorities recommend a mammogram every 1-2 years over the age of 40.
Traditional Breast Care Treatments
Western medicine offers very effective treatment options such as:
- Radiation therapy
- Hormonal therapy
- Antitumor antibiotics
As well as surgical options such as the removal of the breast (mastectomy) or removal of the tumor (lumpectomy). For a complete list of options, please see here.
Breast Cancer Complementary and Alternative Treatments
Complimentary to Western medicine, though, may be alternative breast cancer treatments. Some doctors feel that nutritional supplementation and herbal remedies may be important while others feel that certain supplements may interfere with traditional cancer treatments. No matter what you choose, it’s important to educate yourself and always tell your doctor what, if any, alternative treatments for breast cancer you may be pursuing.
Alternative Breast Cancer Treatment: Nutrition and Supplements
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the following may help with breast cancer treatment:
- Try to eliminate suspected food allergens, such as dairy (milk, cheese, and ice cream), wheat (gluten), soy, corn, preservatives, and chemical food additives. Your health care provider may want to test you for food allergies.
- Use healthy cooking oils, such as olive oil or coconut oil.
- Reduce or eliminate trans fatty acids, found in commercially baked goods such as cookies, crackers, cakes, French fries, onion rings, donuts, processed foods, and margarine.
- Avoid caffeine and other stimulants, alcohol, and tobacco.
- Exercise, if possible, 5 days a week. Speak to your physician to find a regimen that is right for you.
Nutritional deficiencies may be present in those going through best cancer treatment. Supplements to address this include:
- Probiotic supplement (containing Lactobacillus acidophilus), 5 – 10 billion CFUs (colony forming units) a day – for gastrointestinal and immune health
- Omega-3 fatty acids such as fish oil, 1 – 2 capsules or 1 tbsp. of oil 1 – 2 times daily – reduces inflammation and helps with immunity
- Melatonin, 2 – 6 mg at bedtime – for immune support and sleep
Alternative Breast Cancer Treatments: Herbs and Homeopathy
Herbs are generally considered a safe way to strengthen the body’s systems. If this interests you, a naturopath can help you select the herbs that are right for you (in conjunction with your oncologist (cancer doctor)).
Homeopaths try to take into account your individual symptoms and situation when designing an alternative treatment plan just for you. That said, these three remedies are common, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center:
- Arsenicum for anxiety and nausea, with restlessness and burning pains
- Ipecac for nausea unrelieved by vomiting
- Nux vomica for sharp abdominal pains with anger and collapse
Acute dose is 3 – 5 pellets of 12X to 30C every 1 – 4 hours until symptoms are relieved.
Alternative Breast Cancer Treatment: Acupuncture
While acupuncture isn’t used to treat breast cancer directly, studies have shown that it may be useful in relieving some of the symptoms and side effects of treatments such as nausea, fatigue, pain and hot flashes associated with breast cancer medication, breathlessness, and cognitive dysfunction.
When Investigating Alternative Treatments for Breast Cancer
While alternative treatments may be complimentary to traditional treatment, traditional treatment should never be foregone in favour of alternative treatments for breast cancer alone. Make sure you are always under the care of a medical doctor when dealing with breast cancer.
Note: This article is for informational purposes only and nothing in it should be considered an endorsement or medical advice. Only you and your doctor know what treatments are right for you.
“This article was written by award-winning mental health writer and speaker, Natasha Tracy.”