Mammogram "cure rates" misleading
excerpt from Breast Cancer? Breast Health! the Wise Woman Way
by Susun Weed
Available at www.wisewomanbookshop.com
Screening mammograms don't increase your chances of being cured... or of surviving longer. Early diagnosis of breast cancer by mammographic screening produces higher rates of cure and longer survival times without actually increasing the number of women cured nor lengthening their lives. How can that be? It's sleight of hand with numbers.
Survival, when it comes to breast cancer statistics, is defined as being alive five years after the diagnosis of cancer. Cure is defined as being disease-free five years after diagnosis. A women who dies of breast cancer more than five years after her diagnosis can still be included in statistics as a "cure."
A woman with a slow-growing metastasizing breast cancer will live, on the average, 15 years after the cancer's inception. A mammogram can detect a slow-growing breast cancer when it is about eight years old. (15 - 8 = 7 more years to live.) If this woman dies seven years after her diagnosis, she will be counted as "cured" because she lived for more than 5 years.
The same slow-growing metastasizing breast cancer will be 11 or 12 years from its inception when noticed by a woman who neither touches her breasts regularly nor has mammograms. (Women who do regular breast self-exam or breast self-massage usually notice a slow-growing cancer nine years after its inception, just one doubling bigger than visible to a mammogram. This woman will live as long as the woman whose cancer was discovered by screening mammogram, but won't be "cured" because she didn't live for five more years. (15 - 11 = 4 years).
The cure is only a statistic. There is no difference in the number of years lived after the inception of the cancer, no difference in the length of life, only a difference in number of years lived after diagnosis.
Mammograms don't find cancer before it metastasizes. Breast cancers generally don't begin to metastasize until they contain at least one million cells. It takes an ordinary breast cancer-one that doubles every 100 days-about six years to grow that large. (Some very slow breast cancers take 20 years to accumulate a million cells. A very fast breast cancer can get there in a year.)
But a million cells is still only as big as the dot at the end of this sentence. And that's undetectable by either touch or mammogram. (But not by intuition. I've met several women who "felt" their cancers at this tiny size but couldn't convince anyone they had cancer because the medical diagnostic equipment, though technologically advanced, wasn't as perceptive as their inner wisdom.)
By the time a cancer is big enough to be seen on a mammogram, it's usually 8 years old, has 500 million cells, and is approximately one-quarter inch (half a centimeter) long. It has been large enough to metastasize, if it is going to, for a year or more. (Some breast cancers never metastasize, no matter how large they get.)
Aren't mammograms life saving for women over 55? In several studies, yearly mammograms of women aged 55 and older reduced breast cancer mortality by one-third. But this doesn't mean any one woman's risk is reduced by one-third according to Dr. Peter Skrabenek, a critic of mass screening.
Furthermore, the women enrolled in these very successful mammographic studies received regular physical examination of their breasts, which-by itself, without risk-reduces breast cancer mortality.
The vast majority of breast cancers found in older women are slow-growing, non-metastasizing, and not life-threatening, no matter when they're found.
Cancer? Breast Health!
The Wise Woman Way
by Susun S. Weed
Foreword by Christiane Northrup, MD
380 pages, index, profusely illustrated.
Foods, exercises, and attitudes to keep your breasts healthy.
Supportive complimentary medicines to ease side-effects of
surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or tamoxifen.
Retails for $21.95
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Read some excerpts:
Mammograms - Who Needs Them? from Breast Cancer? Breast Health!
Using Herbs Safely from Breast Cancer? Breast Health!
My Anti-Cancer Lifestyle from Breast Cancer? Breast Health!
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What a gift to women of all ages! This
book helped me overcome my fear of what I might discover during
self-examination. I am so grateful that this book came my
way and I am healthier in mind, body, and spirit thanks to
Ms. Weed's wise words! If I could, I would give a copy of
this book to every woman in the world!
Menopause, Phytoestrogens and Breast Health - CD Set
Menopause, Phytoestrogens and Breast Health
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7th International Herb Symposium 2005
(Length - 1 Hour/57 Minutes)
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Herbal Healing for Women
by Rosemary Gladstar
Comprehensive and easy-to-use, Herbal Healing for Women explains how to create remedies -- including teas, tinctures, salves, and ointments -- for the common disorders that arise in the different cycles of a woman's life. Covering adolescence, childbearing years, pregnancy and childbirth, and menopause, Rosemary Gladstar teaches how herbs can be used to treat the symptoms of conditions such as acne, PMS, morning sickness, and hot flashes.
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