The so-called “debate” over breast cancer screening is not a true debate
by László Tabár, MD, FACR (Hon) and Peter B. Dean, MD.
Instead, it is an unequal confrontation between the scientists who have access to the individual patient-based data and also have the expertise needed to evaluate the data, and those who have strong prejudices against the early detection of breast cancer, but who must resort to “estimates”, “approximations” and “assumptions” to support their beliefs, having no access to individual patient data and lacking the expertise needed to interpret peer reviewed, published results.
I remember the very moment my primary care physician announced that he was scheduling me for a mammogram. It was May 3rd, 2014. I watched the expression on his face as he told me this, hoping to discover some faint smile to indicate that he was joking with me. I looked at him incredulously, not quite understanding the words he had just spoken. I waited for the punchline. There wasn’t any.
Finding credible information about how to incorporate complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) can be overwhelming for patients and caregivers, particularly after a cancer diagnosis. The perceived stakes are higher compared to the average healthcare consumer and the questions are many:
Will this supplement interfere with chemotherapy or radiation treatment?
Will this natural substance reduce or increase my chance of recurrence? Will it be beneficial or detrimental to my overall survival?
What does the research say about this CAM therapy and does it apply to me?
Do we know how this substance works in the body?
Helping individuals with a cancer history to navigate the complex and often conflicting opinions of CAM is vital. As a naturopathic doctor, my role is to educate patients regarding the benefits and risks of these therapies in the context of the best available evidence, allowing them to make more informed choices when combining natural supportive therapies and conventional medical treatment. Through this series of articles, I hope to provide a basic understanding of some of the most commonly suggested supplements used for cancer support, making the evidence more accessible and providing a starting point for those looking to start a conversation with their medical team about the addition of CAM therapies to their oncology care plan.
The MATCH Study: Mindfulness And Tai chi for Cancer Health. This innovative clinical trial conducted by the University of Calgary/Tom Baker Cancer Centre and the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre is now recruiting cancer survivors! As a participant you get to choose which treatment approach you want, or let us assign you to a group if you are equally interested in both. We will measure program effects on psychological, physical and biological outcomes including quality of life, mood, stress, balance, blood pressure, heart rate, immune function and more! Visit www.thematchstudy.ca for more details.
by Dr. Robin McGee, CKN Editor, Survivor, Advocate
Cancer Advocacy for Minorities and the Medically Under-Served
When Candace Henley was diagnosed with colorectal cancer at 36, her journey to survival took her to brutal places. She fought crushing financial and psychological pressures to make it through, a story she shares openly. She faced bankruptcy, homelessness, and psychological collapse. “I made a promise to God,” she remembers, “that if I survived I would reach back and help others, and He would let me see my youngest (then only 4) reach the age of 18.” Her mission was to spare others the grueling hardships she endured. “I got my fight back,” she recounts, “and I was motivated by pure anger.”