TIME Magazine’s current issue is perfect for October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, because this mainstream magazine is finally realizing that some of our Western-style allopathic treatments may need some re-thinking. “Why Doctors are Rethinking Breast-Cancer Treatment” by Siobhan O’Connor is definitely worth reading.
Briefly, the article deals mostly with a type of cancer called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), also called Stage o breast cancer. It is non-invasive, that is, confined to the milk ducts, and it is the very earliest stage of breast cancer, with disagreement from doctors in the field about how to treat it. The patient focused on in this article, Desiree Basila, decided to “do nothing” (radical) after investigating all her options. Many people might say she had her head in the sand, but when you read the article you will learn that there are doctors coming forward that agree there is too much chemotherapy, too much radiation, and too many mastectomies for breast cancer treatments.
There is a new line of thinking called active surveillance, which is “an approach involving routine tests and monitoring on a set schedule with a doctor, in lieu of more aggressive treatment.” The reason for this new approach, I believe, is based on newer findings or rethinking of findings that not all tumors grow quickly, but many are rather slow-growing and never actually cause any symptoms. Because, as the author states on page 35, we have been conditioned “to treat every cancer diagnosis as an emergency….” many women are often scared into surgery that could be avoided or delayed.
This article does not say that everyone diagnosed with cancer should “do nothing” drastic. However, it does demonstrate that there are pioneer doctors and several researchers, here and elsewhere (ex. Great Britain) examining this whole issue of lopping off pieces or all of a woman’s breast no matter what type of cancer she has.
I urge you to read this article in its entirety to get a different take on treatment of breast cancer, and extend this thinking to all cancers*, and any other life-threatening illness. There may be alternatives we haven not considered, and I hope this article is one of many that points to providing patients with severe illnesses more treatment choices that are less invasive and more life-affirming. Bravo, TIME, for printing O’Connor’s findings and excellent article.
* A sidebar in this article entitled: “How Deadly is Breast Cancer” offers these statistics: Roughly 1.3 million women in the US die each year and some of the leading causes are listed as: 22% heart disease, 18% cancer (excluding breast cancer), 5% Alzheimer’s, and 3% breast cancer. With 18% of women dying of other cancers, perhaps October might be changed to Cancer Awareness Month to include all cancers.