Fibrocystic breasts vs. breast cancer

In last week’s article we discussed the importance of early detection for cancer prevention and treatment. We learned that many of the advances in successful cancer treatment are due more to early detection as opposed to better treatment options. We learned that the combination of clinical breast exam, mammogram, and thermography give you the best chance of detecting a tumor compared to each technique alone. We also learned that thermography is an imaging technique that picks up blood vessel and heat pattern changes in breast tissue that indicates possible pre-cancerous lesions. This means that thermography may be able to pick up a future site of breast cancer months or years in advance of the tumor formation. In this week’s article we will look at the difference between benign fibrocystic breasts and breast cancer.

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer affecting women in Canada. In fact, it represents about 26% of new cancers diagnosed for women and causes 14% of cancer-related deaths in women. This means about 22,700 women will be diagnosed and about 5,100 women will pass away due to breast cancer in 2012 in Canada. There are several different forms of breast cancer but there are two basic ways to characterize them once they are detected: Tumors that have remained isolated in the breast tissue vs. tumors that have spread to lymph nodes or other tissues.

The earlier a tumor is discovered the more likely it is to be isolated to the breast tissue and the less likely it is to have spread. The prognosis for breast cancers that remain isolated to the breast is better than the tumors that have spread. Early detection is the most important thing you can do to catch a breast tumor before it spreads.

Fibrocystic Breasts

The term fibrocystic breasts refers to non-cancerous lumps that form in the breast. Many women will experience some form of fibrocystic breast development at some point in their lifetime. Typically, when a person feels a lump or cyst in their breast they tend to experience fear that it may be a form of cancer. It is always a good idea to have a lump or cyst evaluated by a physician because it is better to error on the side of caution. However, most of the time the lump or cyst is benign and referred to as a fibrocystic breast.

The main risk factor for fibrocystic breast is the same as what we believe to be the main risk factor for breast cancer; Estrogen Dominance. Estrogen Dominance refers to an imbalance in the ratio of estrogen to progesterone and increases the risk for several different forms of tumor formation. In next week’s article we will discus Estrogen Dominance in detail, including its diagnosis and treatment options.

What Should I Do?

If you have a family history of breast cancer or have a suspicious lump or cyst you should consult your physician to ensure everything has been evaluated fully. I strongly encourage women to have a thermogram performed typically in conjunction with a clinical breast exam and a mammogram. The combination of these three techniques gives you the best chance of early detection. I am a proponent of thermography for most women because it can help identify a tumor that has developed, they can indicate suspicious areas of possible future tumor development, and they can reveal patterns that are suggestive of possible Estrogen Dominance.

In next week’s article we will discus Estrogen Dominance in detail, including its diagnosis and treatment options. To learn more about breast health, thermography, or to schedule an appointment contact Dr. Barlow’s office at 250-448-5610.

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About the Author

Dr. Brent Barlow is a Naturopathic Physician practicing at The Kelowna Wellness Clinic in downtown Kelowna. Dr. Barlow has been in practice in Kelowna since graduating from the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in Vancouver in 2009.

Naturopathic Doctors are trained as primary care physicians, and primarily use natural medicine to treat disease and promote wellness. Dr. Barlow believes strongly in identifying and treating the causes of disease rather than focusing on the treatment of symptoms.

Naturopathic medicine utilizes diet therapy, botanical medicine, nutritional supplementation, acupuncture, spinal manipulation and other physical medicine treatments to treat the causes of disease. Dr. Barlow also trained in the specialized treatments of prolotherapy, neural therapy, intravenous nutrient infusions, and chelation therapy.

Dr. Barlow is in general practice and welcomes all individuals and families. As a naturopathic physician he is trained to treat all health conditions in the manner that best suits the goals of each individual patient. He also has special interests in natural treatments for pain management and digestive health.

To learn more about Dr. Barlow's treatments or to schedule a consultation, visit his website at www.drbrentbarlownd.com or call 250-448-5610.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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