Beware of unnecessary breast cancer treatment

Each year, over 330,000 American women will receive a terrifying two-word diagnosis from their doctor: “breast cancer.” And whether it’s invasive breast cancer or carcinoma in situ (or CIS — a non-invasive, early form of the disease), it can be a very traumatic experience for a number of reasons.

For one, many conventional doctors who treat these women fail to let their patients in on one critical detail: That their cancers are extremely low risk.

That means unnecessary treatments will go forward, along with plenty of anxiety and expense from patients.

Women, take heed. And prepare to share this news with your family and friends: Many cases of breast cancer are so benign that one expert believes they shouldn’t even be called “cancer.”

A shocking level of overtreatment

A recent issue of the British Medical Journal (BMJ) posed this question: “Should we rename low risk cancers?”

One of the co-authors of the BMJ article answered that question with an unequivocal “Yes!

Laura Esserman, M.D., is the director of San Francisco’s Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center, and the co-leader of the Breast Oncology Program at the University of California San Francisco. In the BMJ, she notes that many thyroid, prostate, and breast cancers have ultra-low risk. That is, the projected survival rate for 10 years is 100 percent.

When it comes to breast cancer, she specifically pinpoints ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) which consists of abnormal cells in breast ducts — and is rarely lethal. Nevertheless, she says,

60,000-70,000 women in the U.S. have DCIS surgically removed every year.

This is a shocking level of overtreatment. Dr. Esserman believes that DCIS should be regarded as a risk factor, not a disease. Furthermore, she says it should be reclassified as “indolent lesions of epithelial origin,” and the word “carcinoma” should be dropped.

She hopes this would help refocus doctors’ attention on truly dangerous forms of breast cancer, adding, “Over-treating people who are not at risk of death does not improve the lives of those at highest risk.”

Not a medical emergency

There’s an archaic idea in the field of cancer that the earlier the disease is caught, the better. However, that’s not the case with today’s medical advancements, especially since modern cancer screening methods have become so accurate that they pick up on abnormalities that could potentially turn into cancer, but likely never will.

That’s the situation with DCIS, which Dr. Marc Micozzi refers to in is Authentic Anti-Cancer Protocol as an “epidemic of over-diagnosis and overtreatment of cancer.”

And he adds that the damage to patients is excessive, with “unnecessary costs, confusion, and worry. Not to mention very real, very negative side effects from unnecessary treatments.”

Dr. Micozzi points out that mainstream oncology regards DCIS as the earliest sign of breast cancer, so they treat it like a medical emergency. Typically, oncologists will order a lumpectomy within two weeks of diagnosis, followed by radiation.

Cancer organizations support this aggressive approach of DCIS, claiming that thousands of lives are saved. But Dr. Micozzi isn’t buying it. He says, “A new study on more than 100,000 women found that DCIS was associated with only a 3.3% rate of breast cancer deaths after 20 years.

“That’s similar to what the American Cancer Society cites as the risk of an average woman dying of breast cancer. In other words, you’re no more likely to die of breast cancer if you’re diagnosed with DCIS than someone without this diagnosis.”

Dr. Micozzi notes that a five-year survival rate is the typical benchmark for success in treating cancer, which means that DCIS hardly qualifies as a medical emergency.

“In fact,” he adds, “surgery and radiation doesn’t appear to be necessary at all for the vast majority of women with DCIS. It’s only warranted in a small number of cases.”

Assessing your risk

In the study Dr. Micozzi mentioned above, researchers found that 80 percent of DCIS diagnoses are low risk and could be best treated by prevention strategies.

So how can you determine if you’re among the 80 percent who are low risk or the 20 percent who are at a slightly higher risk?

Dr. Micozzi offers these three risk-assessment questions:

  1. Are you age 35 or younger?
  2. Are you African American?
  3. If you’ve been diagnosed with DCIS, are your DCIS cells high-grade? (If you aren’t sure, ask your oncologist.)

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then more aggressive treatment is called for. But if none of those three categories apply, then Dr. Micozzi recommends the “watchful waiting” method, combined with preventive measures.

Of course, Dr. Micozzi’s Authentic Anti-Cancer Protocol puts a major emphasis on diet, supplements, and other measures for the prevention of breast cancer — and many other types of cancer. For more information about this online learning tool, or to enroll today, click here.

Should we rename low risk cancers?
January 23, 2019