Breast Cancer – The Facts on Screening and Treatment Options

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. According to the CDC, in 2013 a little over 230,000 individuals were diagnosed with breast cancer and over 40,000 people died from breast cancer. 

Breast cancer is serious business. It scares the living daylights out of the women and men affected by it. That’s why it’s important to understand what goes into this disease so you can make an informed decision when facing it. 


Mammogram Screenings to Detect Breast Cancer 

Many women will undergo annual mammogram screenings in preventative efforts for breast cancer. This is what women are taught from an early age. Get a mammogram, prevent breast cancer. However, it is important to understand that mammograms do not prevent breast cancer. They only detect it. So, early detection is truly what is being sought after with this approach. Early detection typically results in early treatment, which may or may not be successful. 

What are the statistics when it comes to mammograms and lives saved due to early breast cancer detection? For every 2,000 women screened for breast cancer throughout 10 years, one will avoid dying of breast cancer due to early detection. 

Women may also be harmed from routine annual mammograms due to false positive tests and the resultant unnecessary treatment. Remember, there are always side effects with any form of medical treatment, especially when it comes to chemotherapy. 

So how many women are harmed due to getting mammograms? For this information and more on breast cancer please read my article, The Business of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (And How to Prevent Breast Cancer in the First Place). 


Preventing and Treating Breast Cancer - Diet vs Drugs 

If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer you will naturally be looking for treatment options. These come in many varieties – chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, diet, alternative therapy, etc. 

It’s important to research as much information as possible when assessing your treatment options. After all, this is a matter of life and death. There are no right or wrong answers to this. Ultimately, you have to live with the decisions you make and the benefits and risks that come along with them. 

While I think it a wise decision for every cancer patient to adopt a whole foods, plant-based diet as part of their treatment plan, we currently have no hard data on using this approach in terms of success rates with breast cancer. But it certainly isn’t going to make anything worse so make sure you eat your veggies. 

Chemotherapy is often a common form of treatment for breast cancer. The most common chemotherapy agents have approximately a 3%-8% success rate over 5 to 10 years. 

To learn more details about these treatment forms in relation to breast cancer please read my article, Preventing and Treating Breast and Prostate Cancer – Food vs. Medicine. 

May your journey to prevent and/or treat breast cancer be a successful one. Remember, the more informed you are the better decisions you can make. 


Dustin Rudolph, PharmD, BCPS