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People Prepare Fruits And Vegetables That Can Help Prevent Breast Cancer

Breast cancer diet: Foods to eat and avoid

  • September 14, 2021

No single food or diet can prevent or cause breast cancer, but a person’s dietary choices can make a difference to their risk of developing breast cancer or their overall well-being while living with the condition.

Breast cancer is a complex disease with many contributing factors. Some of these factors, including age, family history, genetics, and gender, are not within a person’s control.

However, a person can control other factors, such as smoking, physical activity levels, body weight, and diet. Some researchers have suggested that dietary factors could be responsible for 30–40% of all cancers.

Foods to eat

People Prepare Fruits And Vegetables That Can Help Prevent Breast Cancer
Fresh fruits and vegetables may help prevent breast cancer.

Breast cancer can start in different places, grow in different ways, and require different kinds of treatment. Just as particular types of cancer respond better to certain treatments, some cancers respond well to specific foods.

The following foods can play a role in a healthful diet in general, and they may also help prevent the development or progression of breast cancer:

  • a variety of fruits and vegetables, including salad
  • foods that are rich in fiber, such as whole grains, beans, and legumes
  • low fat milk and dairy products
  • soybean-based products
  • foods rich in vitamin D and other vitamins
  • foods, particularly spices, with anti-inflammatory properties
  • foods — mainly plant based — that contain antioxidants

Dietary patterns that prioritize these foods includeTrusted Source:

  • A southern diet that is high in cooked greens, legumes, and sweet potatoes
  • Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables and healthful oils
  • Any “prudent” diet that contains plenty of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and fish

Fruits and vegetables

studyTrusted Source of 91,779 women found that following a diet comprising mainly plants could cut the risk of developing breast cancer by 15%.

Along with their other benefits, fruits and vegetables are rich in flavonoids and carotenoids, which appear to have various medical benefits.

Studies have suggested that the following foods may help prevent breast cancer:

  • dark, green, leafy vegetables, such as kale and broccoli
  • fruits, especially berries and peaches
  • beans, pulses, fish, eggs, and some meat

Researchers have associated beta carotene, which occurs naturally in vegetables such as carrots, with a lower risk of breast cancer. Scientists speculate that this may be because it interferes with the growth process of cancer cells.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommend consuming between five and nine servings of fresh fruit and vegetables a day.

Dietary fiber and antioxidants

Research into dietary fiber and its effect on breast cancer is currently inconclusive, but several studies have suggested that it can help protect against the disease.

Excess estrogen can be a factor in the development and spread of some types of breast cancer. Some treatments aim to keep estrogen from interacting with breast cancer cells. Eating a high fiber diet can support this process and accelerate the elimination of estrogen.

Fiber supports the digestive system and the regular elimination of waste, including excess estrogen. It helps the body eliminate toxins and limits the damage that they can do.

The way that fiber binds to estrogen in the gut may also help prevent the body from absorbing too much estrogen. These factors may help reduceTrusted Source the risk of breast cancer.

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes provide fiber, but they also contain antioxidants, including beta carotene and vitamins C and E.

Antioxidants can help prevent many diseases by reducing the numbers of free radicals, which are waste substances that the body naturally produces. A 2013 meta-analysisTrusted Source found that people who eat more whole grains may have a lower risk of breast cancer.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020Trusted Source recommend an intake of up to 33.6 grams of fiber a day, depending on a person’s age and sex.

Good fat

Avocado On Toast
Avocado is a good source of healthful fats.

Fatty foods can lead to obesity, and people with obesity appear to have a higher risk of developing cancer, including breast cancer.

Some dietary fat is necessary for the body to work properly, but it is important to consume the right type.

Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats can be beneficial in moderation. They are present in:

  • olive oil
  • avocados
  • seeds
  • nuts

Cold water fish, such as salmon and herring, contain a healthful polyunsaturated fat called omega-3. This fat may also help reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Learn more here about healthful fats.

The authors of a 2015 study cited a rodent study in which rodents that consumed 8¬–25% of their calories as omega-3 fats appeared to have a 20–35% lower chance of developing breast cancer.

They also cited another study involving over 3,000 women, which showed that those who consumed high levels of omega-3 had a 25% lower risk of breast cancer recurrence over the next 7 years.

The health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids might be due to their ability to reduce inflammation. Inflammation may be a contributing factor for breast cancer.

Soy

Soy is a healthful food source that may help reduce the risk of breast cancer. It is a plant based product that is rich in protein, healthful fat, vitamins, and minerals but low in carbohydrates. It also contains antioxidants known as isoflavones.

The authors of a 2017 studyTrusted Source that looked at data for 6,235 women concluded that, overall, “a higher dietary intake of isoflavone was associated with reduced all-cause mortality.” The researchers were investigating whether soy consumption was a good idea for people with breast cancer.

Soy may also help reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad,” cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease. Along with obesity, these conditions are risk factors that contribute to metabolic syndrome, which involves inflammation.

Inflammation may play a role in breast cancer, although the role that it plays remains uncertain.

Soy is present in foods such as:

Some people question whether soy might increase the risk of breast cancer because it contains isoflavones, which resemble estrogen.

However, the author of a 2016 review article notes that estrogen is not the same as isoflavones and that the two are unlikely to behave in the same way. According to the author, the North American Menopause Society have concluded that isoflavones do not increase the risk of breast cancer.

Foods to avoid

Foods that may increase the riskTrusted Source of different kinds of cancer, including breast cancer, include:

  • alcohol
  • added sugar
  • fat
  • red meat
  • processed foods

Alcohol

Studies have identified a link between regular alcohol consumption and an increased risk of breast cancer.

Breastcancer.org report that alcohol may increase estrogen levels and cause damage to DNA. They also note that women who drink three alcoholic beverages per week increase their risk of developing breast cancer by 15%.

According to estimates, the risk goes up by about 10% with each additional drink per day.

Sugar

In research from 2016, mice that ate a diet that was as rich in sugar as the typical diet in the U.S. were more likely to develop mammary gland tumors similar to breast cancer in humans.

In addition, these tumors were more likely to spread, or metastasize.

Fat

StudiesTrusted Source suggest that not all fats are bad. Although fat from processed foods appears to increase the risk of breast cancer, some plant based fats may help reduce it.

Trans fats are a type of fat that is common in processed and premade foods. Scientists have linked it with a higher risk of breast cancer. Trans fats most commonly occur in processed foods, such as fried foods, some crackers, donuts, and packaged cookies or pastries. People should limit their intake of trans fats where possible.

Red meat

Some studiesTrusted Source have found a link between red meat and an increased risk of breast cancer, especially if a person cooks the meat at high temperatures, which can trigger the release of toxins.

In addition, processed meats and cold cuts tend to be high in fat, salt, and preservatives. These may increase rather than reduce the risk of breast cancer. Overall, minimizing the processing of a food makes it more healthful.

Other tips

Turmeric May Have Many Benefits
Turmeric may have anti-inflammatory properties that help prevent breast cancer.

Vitamin D from foods and sunlight exposure may help protectTrusted Source against breast cancer. Vitamin D is present in eggs, cold water fish, and fortified products. A person can consult a doctor to check their vitamin D levels. If these are low, the doctor may recommend a supplement.

Green tea may have several beneficial health effects. It contains antioxidants, and these may help strengthen the immune system and reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Turmeric is a yellow spice that may have anti-inflammatory properties that could limit the growth of breast cancer cells.

Maintaining a healthy body weight is beneficial for well-being in general, but it is particularly important for people who wish to prevent the development or recurrence of breast cancer. Obesity is a known risk factor for the disease.

Exercise is also important. The National Cancer Institute report that women who exercise for 4 hours per week or longer have a lower risk of breast cancer.

Talking to other people with the condition, exchanging recipes, and sharing stories about which foods have helped may be beneficial.

The Breast Cancer Healthline app provides people with access to an online breast cancer community, where users can connect with others and gain advice and support through group discussions.

Takeaway

Following a healthful diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables and low in added sugar and trans fats may reduce the risk of breast cancer.

It can also lower the risk of obesity, a condition that increases the likelihood of a person developing breast and other cancers.

News for professionals & patients

Source: Breast cancer diet: Foods to eat and avoid

How do fruit and veg reduce colorectal cancer risk

  • September 14, 2021

A study initially investigating aspirin as a preventive treatment for colorectal cancer coincidentally uncovered a mechanism that might explain how fruit and vegetables reduce the risk of developing this disease.

Selection of berries
A recent study delves into flavonoids, which occur in a range of fruit and veg.

Worldwide, more than 1 millionTrusted Source people receive a diagnosis of colorectal cancer each year. It is also the third most common cause of cancer death in the United States.

Experts estimate that in 2019, doctors will diagnose 101,420 new cases of colon cancer and 44,180 new cases of rectal cancer in the U.S. alone. They also expect that 51,020 people will die of colorectal cancer in 2019.

The risk factors for colorectal cancer include certain dietary factors, such as a diet rich in red meat, such as beef, lamb or pork, and processed meats, such as hot dogs. Other risk factors include having overweight and obesity.

Now, researchers have identified the potential of a flavonoid metabolite to prevent colorectal cancer. This compound occurs in fruit and vegetables, such as blackberries, blueberries, red grapes, apples, red onions, broccoli, pomegranate, strawberries, apricots, red cabbage, and peels of purple eggplant, as well as chocolate and tea.

From aspirin to fruit

Associate Professor Jayarama Gunaje and his team at South Dakota State University in Brookings were initially investigating aspirin as a way to prevent cancer. During their investigation, they uncovered new details about flavonoids and how they might prevent colorectal cancer. They recently published their findings in the journal Cancers.

Previous studiesTrusted Source had identified that flavonoids, natural compounds in fruit and vegetables, inhibit cancer, but no one knew what made them effective.

“Our laboratory has been working on the mechanism of cancer prevention by aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid), a household drug that has been known to decrease the occurrences of colorectal cancers for over a decade,” Gunaje explained to Medical News Today.

“While investigating this phenomenon, we were conducting experiments on the role of aspirin metabolites and other derivatives of salicylic acid for their ability to inhibit cancer cell growth.”

During this process, the team discovered that 2,4,6-trihydroxybenzoic acid (2,4,6-THBA) — a compound produced when gut bacteria break down flavonoids — inhibits the enzymes involved in cell division.

Gunaje added that “Interestingly [2,4,6-THBA] is also present in small amounts in red wine, possibly [due to] the degradation of flavonoid compounds in grapes during the fermentation process.”

“Encouraged by these findings, we hypothesized that 2,4,6-THBA might be a contributor to the cancer preventive properties of flavonoids. Subsequent experiments proved that 2,4,6-THBA inhibits cancer cell growth in cells expressing a functional transporter protein (SLC5A8) in the plasma membrane,” Gunaje said.

“Thus, the initial studies on aspirin led to the studies on flavonoid compounds.”

Paving the way to a new treatment

“We have so many drugs to treat cancer, but almost none to prevent it,” says Gunaje. “Cancer is not going away, so we need to find ways to prevent it. That is why we are excited about the discovery of 2,4,6-THBA as an inhibitor of cancer cell growth.”

Using multiple human cancer cell lines grown in the laboratory, they found that 2,4,6-THBA effectively inhibited cancer cell growth.

Once the researchers documented that 2,4,6-THBA, a derivative of salicylic acid in aspirin, could inhibit cancer cell growth, they set about searching for natural sources of this cancer-preventing compound, which led them to flavonoids.

Their theory was that it is the breaking down of flavonoids, rather than the parent compounds, which decrease colorectal cancer.

“However, these results have not been confirmed in animal models, which is a limitation of the study,” Gunaje explained to MNT.

Nonetheless, researchers maintain that the demonstration of the efficacy of 2,4,6-THBA as a cancer cell inhibitor is essential.

“We believe that this compound has the potential to be used as a drug for cancer prevention, although more studies (including testing on animal models and clinical trials) needs to be performed,” he said.

“Since the gut microflora contributes to the degradation of the flavonoids in the intestine, we are in the process of identifying specific bacterial species that can generate 2,4,6-THBA. These bacteria can then be used as a probiotic along with flavonoid supplements (already on the market) for cancer prevention.”

Gunaje concluded by reiterating the importance of including fruit and vegetables with flavonoid components as an integral part of the diet.

News for professionals

Source: How do fruit and veg reduce colorectal cancer risk  

Breast cancer: Anatomy and early warning signs

  • September 14, 2021

Certain changes in the breast may be early signs of breast cancer. Knowing what these changes look and feel like can help people access the right treatment as soon as possible.

Understanding the various parts of the breast and their function can help people be more aware of any changes or abnormalities.

This article looks at the early warning signs of breast cancer, who might be at risk, and what people should do if they spot one or more of these warning signs.

Early signs

woman checking her breast for early signs of cancer
A lump can be an early sign of breast cancer.

When most people think of breast cancer detection, they think of a lump in the breast. This is a possible warning sign, but it is not the only one. It may also not be the first one to develop.

Some other common signs of breast cancer include:

  • lumps inside the breast or underarm area
  • changes in breast size and shape
  • pain in a specific area that does not go away
  • prominent veins on the surface of the breast
  • nipple discharge that starts suddenly
  • a sore or rash on the nipple
  • swelling, redness, or darkening of the breast
  • dimpling of the skin on the breast
  • inversion of the nipple or other parts of the breast

That being said, the same changes are often the result of benign breast conditions. They do not necessarily mean that cancer is present. However, if a person notices these changes, they should see a doctor to make sure.

There are different types of breast cancer, and they can affect individuals in different ways.

Specific signs of inflammatory breast cancer

This is a rare but aggressive type of cancer that can appear differently to other types.

Symptoms include:

  • swelling
  • redness
  • a pink, reddish purple, or bruised appearance
  • ridged or pitted skin
  • in some cases, a palpable tumor
  • a rapid increase in breast size
  • heaviness and tenderness in the breast
  • a burning sensation
  • inversion of the nipple
  • swollen lymph nodes in the collarbone or underarm area

Inflammatory breast cancer tends to occur at a younger age than other types of cancer. Doctors sometimes misdiagnose it because it can resemble an infection, trauma, or another problem.

Is it cancer?

The same warning signs that occur with cancer can also signify other benign conditions. It is therefore important to know how to recognize which signs might indicate the presence of cancer and which do not.

Lumps

breast dimpling
Dimpling and nipple discharge may also be signs of breast cancer.

It is not unusual to have lumpy breasts, as breast tissue is often lumpy in texture. Lumpiness can vary widely and does not always indicate cancer, particularly if it feels the same throughout both breasts.

However, a person should see their doctor if they notice:

  • changes in breast texture that are not due to the menstrual cycle
  • a harder lump that feels different from the rest of the breast
  • a lump that is not present in the other breast

Lumps that are cancerous:

  • usually have uneven edges
  • are usually painless
  • are usually hard

However, the lump can also be soft, rounded, and tender.

People tend to seek medical advice when they are worried about a new lump. However, there may be no lump at all, or the lump may be too small to feel. In fact, a mammogram or other type of screening method may be the first sign of a lump.

If a mammogram reveals a lump, a doctor may suggest further tests — such as an ultrasound or a biopsy — to confirm the diagnosis.

Benign conditions that can involve lumps or lumpiness include:

  • cysts
  • fibroadenoma
  • calcifications
  • mastitis

Fibroadenomas consist of glandular and connective tissue. These are very common and not cancerous. Most types do not increase the risk of breast cancer.

Fibroadenomas can be up to an inch in diameter and have a smooth, rubbery feel. They can also move under the skin.

In this article, learn more about fibroadenoma of the breast.

Nipple discharge

Nipple discharge can result from:

  • squeezing the nipples
  • an infection

A person should see their doctor if they have:

  • discharge that occurs without squeezing the nipple
  • discharge in one breast and not the other
  • discharge that contains blood

Whether or not the discharge relates to cancer, it may need treatment.

Normal breast changes

Hormonal changes can happen at different stages of life, and these can lead to lumps, changes in shape, and other changes that are not due to cancer.

For example, puberty, pregnancy, and menopause may cause changes in the breast because of varying levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone in the body.

Risk factors

Some people have a higher chance than others of developing breast cancer. If they notice any of the above symptoms, they should be sure to see a doctor.

Factors that increase the risk, according to the American College of PhysiciansTrusted Source (ACP), include:

  • a personal history of breast cancer or a high-risk lesion
  • genetic factors, such as the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene mutation
  • exposure to chest radiation during childhood

Every case will be different. Knowing about any personal or family history of breast cancer and discussing this with a doctor can help a person know what to look out for.

What to do if you spot symptoms

Anyone who notices a change in their breast that develops without a clear cause should see a doctor, especially if the changes affect only one breast. In many cases, routine screening will reveal any significant changes.

Breast cancer is highly treatable if diagnosis occurs in the early stages. Regular screening can help with this.

As of April 2019, the ACP make four recommendationsTrusted Source for screening for women with an average risk of breast cancer and other guidelines for those with a higher risk.

For those with an average risk:

Women ages 40–49 should ask their doctor about whether they should start having a routine mammogram.

Women aged 50–74 who have an average risk should have a mammogram every 2 years.

Women with an average risk should stop screening when they reach 75 years of age, or if they expect to live another 10 years or fewer.

Women of all ages with an average risk should not undergo clinical breast examination to screen for breast cancer.

Other organizations, such as the American Cancer Society, make different recommendations. Each person should ask their doctor for advice on the best strategy for them.

What the doctor will do

It is helpful for people to be aware of how their breasts feel so that they can get used to any regular changes that occur. If they notice anything unusual, they should see their doctor.

At their visit, the doctor may use one of the following methods:

Clinical breast exam

The ACP guidelines no longer recommend a clinical physical examination as part of routine screening. That said, a doctor may carry out a physical examination if a person suspects a change.

The individual will need to remove the clothing from the top half of their body.

The doctor may then carry out a:

Visual check: They will ask the person to raise and lower their arms, as this can show differences in the size and shape of the breasts. They will also look for any rashes, dimpling, or nipple discharge.

Manual check: The doctor will use the pads of their fingers to check the entire breast, underarm, and collarbone for any abnormalities and suspicious lumps. They will also check any enlarged lymph nodes.

The doctor will note any changes or unusual features, and they may recommend further tests.

Other tests

woman receiving mammogram
The doctor may recommend a mammogram.

Further tests include:

Mammogram: An X-ray of the breast.

Ultrasound: This does not involve radiation and may show more detail than a mammogram or confirm the results of a mammogram.

MRI: This can provide a detailed picture of the breast.

Biopsy: A doctor uses a needle or other device to take tissue or fluid from the area for further tests.

If a doctor recommends these tests, it does not mean that a person has breast cancer. In many cases, the results will show that there is no cancer.

Breast anatomy and cancer risk

Knowing about the different parts of the breast can help people understand how cancer forms and spreads.

female breast is made up of:

  • body fat (adipose tissue)
  • lobes
  • lobules
  • milk ducts
  • lymph nodes
  • blood vessels

Adipose tissue

The female breast consists mostly of adipose tissue, or body fat. Adipose tissue stretches from the collarbone, down to the underarm, and across to the ribcage.

Adipose tissue also contains nerve cells and blood vessels. It is important for storing and releasing energy.

Lobes, lobules, and milk ducts

A female breast will generally have 12–20 sections called lobes. Each of these is made up of smaller areas of milk glands, called lobules.

Milk ducts connect the lobes and lobules, and they carry milk to the nipple. Breast cancer is most likely to affect the lobes, lobules, and milk ducts.

Lymphatic and vascular system

There is a lymphatic and vascular network inside the breast. The vascular system consists of blood vessels, and the lymphatic system consists of lymph channels.

These two systems work together to carry blood and fluid to and from the breast tissue to the rest of the body.

If breast cancer enters these systems, it can travel throughout the body, increasing the chance of it spreading or coming back.

Lymph nodes are clusters of bean-shaped cells present throughout the lymphatic system. These are immune cells that act as filters. They are the first place breast cancer is likely to spread.

Summary

With current treatment options, a person who has a diagnosis of early stage breast cancer has a 99% chance of living for at least another 5 years.

To ensure early diagnosis, it is important to recognize any changes in the breast and to raise any concerns with a doctor. Most breast changes do not indicate cancer, but it is always worthwhile to check.

News for patients

Source: Breast cancer: Anatomy and early warning signs

Colorful Fruit And Veg

The best diets to prevent and fight colorectal cancer

  • September 14, 2021

Colorectal cancer is quite common, especially among the aging population. An important risk factor for colorectal cancer is diet, and dietary choices are also vital during and after treatment. In this Spotlight, we give you an overview of which diets are best, and which are best avoided.

Colorful Fruit And Veg
What does a good diet for preventing colorectal cancer and for aiding cancer treatment look like?

Colorectal cancer is a type of cancer that affects a person’s rectum, colon, or both. This is also known as the large intestine.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), 2018 could bring around 97,220 new diagnoses of colon cancer and 43,030 new cases of rectal cancer to the United States.

This type of cancer is more likely to appear in older individuals, but there are many other risk factors associated with its emergence, such as genetic and lifestyle factors.

Of the latter, one of the most cited risk factorsTrusted Source is diet — referring specifically to poor dietary habits that often also lead to obesity.

Below, we look at which foods and nutrients have been said to raise the risk of colorectal cancer, and which types of diet have been deemed helpful in its prevention.

We also cover the diets most likely to keep the body resilient during and after treatment for this type of cancer.

Prevention: What to avoid

Numerous studies have indicated that a diet too rich in red meat is associated with a heightened risk of colorectal cancer. “Red meat” is definedTrusted Source by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “all mammalian muscle meat, including beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse, and goat.”

red meat
Eating a lot of red meat is known to significantly increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

reviewTrusted Source of the evidence supporting this link notes that “consumption of red meat might be related directly to the incidence of [colorectal cancer] or indirectly because a diet high in meat tends to be low in vegetables, fruit, and fiber.”

A studyTrusted Source of North Italian populations showed that individuals who eat red meat alongside eggs, cheese, and other fatty foods — as well as refined starches — on a frequent basis had an almost twice higher risk of developing rectal or colon cancer than their peers who favored a plant-based diet.

More recent research also revealed that “a daily increase of 100 [grams] of all meat or red meat is associated with a significant 12–17 percent increased risk of colorectal cancer.”

In 2015, a reportTrusted Source published by the International Agency for Research on Cancer made the news by pointing out that every 50-gram portion of processed meat, such as bacon or salami, eaten every day increases a person’s risk of developing colorectal cancer by 18 percent.

This evidence led the WHO to classify processed meats as “carcinogenic to humans.”

The damage caused by unwholesome diets made the headlines again in early 2018, when a study published in The BMJ reported that “ultra-processed foods” might increase the risk of developing various types of cancer.

Prevention: What to eat

So, if a high intake of red meat and processed foods contributes to the risk of colorectal cancer, what should be eaten to protect our bodies from this outcome?

colorful salad
In order to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, eat a healthful diet that favors fruit and veg.

According to the ACS, a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and fibers could help to minimize the risk, and many existing studies seem to support this advice.

A study from the Loma Linda University in California found that vegetarian-style dietsTrusted Source are linked to a decreased risk of colorectal cancer. The researchers studied four types of plant-based diet. These were:

  • vegan, or strictly no products of animal origin
  • lacto-ovo vegetarian, which includes dairy and eggs but no meat
  • pescovegetarian, which includes fish but no meat
  • semivegetarian, which includes meat and fish infrequently

All four of these plant-based diets were deemed to be less likely to lead to cancer than non-vegetarian diets.

One study from last year also suggests that the more colorful your meal the better, and that individuals should focus on integrating a rainbow of fruit and vegetables into their diets.

More specifically, their experiments on the pig model — which provides the closest resemblanceTrusted Source to the human body in terms of metabolic processes — indicated that purple potatoes might protect against colon cancer.

That may be because these root vegetables contain compounds that reduce levels of certain pro-inflammatory proteins in the body, and inflammation is known to contributeTrusted Source to colon cancer risk.

Recently, researchers have also isolated a number of elements typical of Mediterranean-style diets that could help to prevent the onset of colorectal cancer.

People with a low risk of developing this condition ate plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains, as well as fish and poultry, rather than red meat, and they drank little alcohol and soft drinks.

What to eat during and after treatment

According to guidelines from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA, people undergoing treatment for colorectal cancer should also favor the “rainbow plate” meals and eat a varied array of fruits and vegetables to support their immune system.

bowl of tree nuts
A diet rich in tree nuts could improve the outcomes of cancer treatment.

Eating small but frequent portions is another approach that specialists at the Dana-Farber Institute suggest that people following treatment may find useful.

They advise patients to stay hydrated and avoid alcohol and caffeine, explaining that some types of medication may clash with these beverages.

But a previous study conducted by researchers at the Institute — which we covered on Medical News Today — indicated that those undergoing treatment for colorectal cancer had an almost halved risk of cancer recurrence if they drank four cups of coffee, or 460 milligrams of caffeine, per day.

As lead study author Charles Fuchs explains, “We found that coffee drinkers had a lower risk of the cancer coming back and a significantly greater survival and chance of a cure.”

Research published last year in JAMA Oncology suggests that a diet high in sources of fiber may improve survival rates for patients with stage one colorectal cancer. Eating whole grains was also linked to a better treatment outcome, the researchers noted.

Another study from last year notes that eating a minimum of 2 ounces (approximately 57 grams) of tree nuts — such as cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, and pistachios — almost halved the risk of colon cancer recurrence for individuals following stage three cancer treatment. Tree nut consumption also reduced the risk of death following treatment by 53 percent.

As for the risk of developing a second cancer following treatment, the ACS say that it can be reduced by making the same healthful diet choices advised for the prevention of a first cancer. These include maintaining a healthy weight, placing “an emphasis on plant foods” in daily meals, and avoiding alcohol intake.

In fact, Dr. Victor Moreno — from the University of Barcelona in Spain — and colleagues found that lifestyle factorsTrusted Source are more important than genetic risk factors when it comes to the development of colorectal cancer.

“This is important, considering that lifestyle, unlike genetic traits, is somewhat modifiable.”

First study author Dr. Gemma Ibáñez

This suggests that a “revamp” of personal health choices may go a long way toward supporting positive outcomes.

News for patients & professionals

Source: The best diets to prevent and fight colorectal cancer  

Colorectal cancer: Symptoms, treatment, risk factors and more

  • September 14, 2021

Colorectal cancer, also known as bowel cancer, colon cancer, or rectal cancer, is any cancer that affects the colon and rectum.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) expects to see around 104,270 new cases of colon cancer and 45,230 new cases of rectal cancer in the United States in 2021.

Colorectal cancer is the thirdTrusted Source most common cancer in the U.S. and the second cause of cancer-related deaths.

The incidence varies around the world. It is more commonTrusted Source in countries with a higher economic status, but according to a 2021 analysisTrusted Source, it is also more likely to affect individuals with a low income.

Fatality rates have been falling due to medical advances. Also, the 2021 analysis observes that numbers of diagnoses are rising among people younger than 50 years old, possibly due to improvements in screening.

In this article, learn about the symptoms of colorectal cancer and the treatments. Also, find out about the risk factors, some of which are avoidable.

Symptoms

862188 Colorectal Cancer Symptoms 1296x875 Body 1 1024x692 1
Illustration by Diego Sabogal

Colorectal cancer may not cause symptoms in the early stages. If it does, they may include:

  • changes in bowel habits
  • diarrhea or constipation
  • a feeling that the bowel does not empty properly
  • blood in feces that makes it look dark brown or black
  • bright red blood from the rectum
  • abdominal pain and bloating
  • feeling full, even when a long time has passed since a meal
  • fatigue or tiredness
  • unexplained weight loss
  • anemia

If a doctor finds signs of anemia during a routine medical check, they may suggest screening for colorectal cancer. Others receive the diagnosis after routine screening. Around 40% of people with this type of cancer receive the diagnosis when the disease is in an early stage.

The symptoms can be similar to those of many other health conditions. Anyone who has concerns about these symptoms should seek medical advice.

Early signs

Among people who receive a diagnosis of colorectal cancer after reporting symptoms:

  • 37%Trusted Source have blood in feces or from the rectum
  • 34% have abdominal pain
  • 23% have anemia

Among those who receive the diagnosis after seeking emergency medical assistance:

  • 57% have a blockage in their bowel
  • 25% have peritonitis, or inflammation of the stomach lining
  • 18% have a perforation, or hole, in their bowel

Some people only notice symptoms in the later stages, when the cancer has spread to the lungs, liver, or other areas. The symptoms can depend on the area affected.

If cancer spreads to the liver, a person may have jaundice, which causes yellowing of the whites of the eyes. If a person has white or light brown skin, it may also appear yellowish. If cancer affects the lungs, the person may have difficulty breathing or a cough.

Does Medicare cover screening for colorectal cancer?

Treatment

Treatment will depend on several factors. These include:

  • the size and location of tumors, and the cancer’s stage
  • whether the cancer is recurrent
  • the person’s overall health

Treatment options include chemotherapyradiation therapy, and surgery. Palliative care can help manage symptoms, such as pain, and improve the quality of life.

Surgery

Surgery is the primary treatment for colorectal cancer that is limited to the colon. It aims to remove cancerous tissue, including tumors and nearby lymph nodes, and prevent the cancer from spreading.

The surgeon usually sews the bowel back together, but they may need to insert a stoma and colostomy bag for drainage. This is often temporary.

Surgery may remove all traces of early stage cancer. In the later stages, surgery cannot stop the cancer from spreading, but removing a blockage can help ease any symptoms.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy drugs destroy cancerous cells throughout the body. This may help treat colon cancer or shrink a tumor before surgery. It can also help relieve symptoms in the later stages.

This approach, however, can have widespread adverse effects, as it targets both cancerous and healthy cells.

Targeted therapy

This involves taking drugs that target specific proteins to slow or prevent the growth of cancerous cells.

The adverse effects are usually less severe than those of chemotherapy because these drugs only target specific cells.

Immunotherapy

This drug treatment helps the body use its immune system to detect and eliminate cancerous cells. It may help some people with advanced colorectal cancer.

Possible adverse effects include an autoimmune reaction, in which the body mistakenly attacks its own cells.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation beams to destroy cancerous cells and prevent them from multiplying.

A doctor may recommend it to help shrink a tumor before surgery for rectal cancer. They may also use it alongside chemotherapy, in an approach known as chemoradiation.

It can have long- and short-term adverse effects.

Ablation

Ablation involves using microwaves, radiofrequency, ethanol, or cryosurgery to destroy a tumor without removing it.

A surgeon delivers the therapy using a probe or needle guided by ultrasound or CT scans.

Palliative and end-of-life care

If colorectal cancer spreads to organs beyond the colon, progressing to stage 4, it is not possible to cure it. Other options may include:

  • surgery to remove a blockage
  • radiation therapy or chemotherapy to reduce the size of tumors
  • pain relief
  • treatment for side effects of medication
  • counseling

In the future: Vaccines

Scientists are hopeful that a vaccine to treat colorectal cancer will soon become available.

Clinical findings published in 2019 concluded that one vaccine, called Ad5-GUCY2C-PADRE, may help people with colorectal cancer that has not yet reached stage 3.

Causes and risk factors

It is not clear exactly why colorectal cancer occurs. Most cases probably result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors.

Around 70%Trusted Source of cases happen for no clear reason, while 10% appear to be inherited and 20% happen in family clusters.

Some other associated factors may include:

  • being of older age
  • being male
  • having a low income
  • having a diet low in fiber and high in animal protein, saturated fats, and calories
  • having a diet high in red or processed meats
  • consuming alcohol
  • smoking
  • getting low levels of physical activity
  • being overweight or having obesity
  • having inflammatory bowel disease
  • having type 2 diabetes
  • having certain genetic features
  • having had breast, ovary, or uterine cancer
  • having undergone radiation therapy for abdominal cancer in childhood
  • having polyps in the colon or rectum

Polyps are sometimes precancerous. Learn about one type, called sessile polyps, that can develop in the colon.

Black Americans have a higher risk

Research from 2018 concludes that Black Americans are more likelyTrusted Source to develop and die from colorectal cancer than any other group in the U.S.

The chance of a Black person having this type of cancer is at least 20% higher than the chance of a white person having it, and the fatality rate is 40% higher for Black people, the ACS report.

Explaining the reasons, the ACS cites socioeconomic factors and inequity in terms of screening specifically and healthcare generally, as well as employment, diet, and other factors related to daily life.

The authors of the 2018 analysis say that further research is needed to identify whether colorectal cancer affects Black people in specific ways, and they note that this investigation might lead to more effective treatment.

What is health inequity? Learn more here.

Stages

The stage of cancer refers to how far it has spread. Determining the stage helps doctors chose the most appropriate treatment.

There are different methods of staging. One method is:

  • Stage 0This is the earliest stage, also known as carcinoma in situ, when the cancer is only in the inner layer of the colon or rectum.
  • Stage 1: The cancer has grown through the inner layer of the colon or rectum but has not spread beyond the wall of the rectum or colon.
  • Stage 2The cancer has grown through or into the wall of the colon or rectum but has not yet reached nearby lymph nodes.
  • Stage 3: The cancer has reached nearby lymph nodes but not other parts of the body.
  • Stage 4: The cancer is present in other parts of the body, such as the liver or lungs.

Sometimes, treatment eliminates the cancer, but it comes back in the same area or another part of the body. This is called recurrent cancer.

Diagnosis

Screening can detect polyps before they become cancerous. It can also detect colon cancer in the early stages, when it is easier to treat.

In 80%Trusted Source of cases, a doctor diagnoses colorectal cancer after performing a colonoscopy because the person has symptoms. Routine screening detects 11% of cases, and 7% of people with colorectal cancer receive a diagnosis after seeking emergency care for sudden abdominal symptoms.

The following are the most common screening and diagnostic proceduresTrusted Source for colorectal cancer.

Colonoscopy

A Colonoscopy Diagram

Colonoscopy is the gold standard diagnostic tool for colorectal cancer. It has a high levelTrusted Source of accuracy and can show precisely where a tumor is.

The procedure involves using a long, thin, flexible tool called a colonoscope that contains a light and a camera. It allows the doctor to see the whole colon and rectum. They may also remove polyps or take tissue for a biopsy during the procedure.

A colonoscopy is painless, but some people take a mild sedative to help them stay calm. Beforehand, a person may need to drink a laxative fluid to clean out their colon. Bleeding and perforation of the colon wall are rare but possible complications.

Blood stool test

This checks for blood in a stool sample. This issue can result from many conditions — it does not mean that cancer is present. A person can take their stool sample at home or at work.

Stool immunochemistry

Also known as a fecal immunochemistry test, this checks for hidden blood in the lower colon. It involves using a small kit to collect a stool sample at home.

What are some other causes of rectal bleeding?

Stool DNA test

This test checks for several DNA markers that colon cancers or precancerous polyps shed into stool. A person collects an entire bowel movement at home for testing in a lab. If the result is positive, a colonoscopy is necessary.

It is worth keeping in mind that this test cannot detect every DNA marker of cancer.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy

This procedure involves using a sigmoidoscope, a flexible, thin, lighted tube, to examine the rectum and sigmoid colon — the last part of the colon before the rectum.

The test takes a few minutes and is not painful, but it might be uncomfortable. There is a small risk of perforating the colon’s wall.

Barium enema X-ray

Barium is a contrast dye that can reveal any unusual features on an X-ray. A healthcare professional introduces it into the bowel as an enema.

A doctor may recommend a colonoscopy for closer investigation following a barium enema X-ray.

CT colonography

This produces images of the colon. It is less invasive than a colonoscopy, but if it reveals a mass, the person will need a colonoscopy.

Imaging scans

Ultrasound, CT, or MRI scans can show if cancer has spread to another part of the body.

Learn more about tests other than a colonoscopy that can detect colorectal cancer

Outlook

The outlook for someone with colorectal cancer depends on many different factors, including their age, their overall health, and the stage at which the cancer was diagnosed.

The ACS provides 5-year survival rates. These reflect the likelihood of living for at least another 5 years after the diagnosis, compared with a person who does not have colorectal cancer.

The ACS gives survival rates using these stages:

  • Local: The cancer has stayed in its original location.
  • Regional: The cancer has spread to nearby tissues.
  • Distant: It has reached more distant parts of the body.

According to a 2010 report from the National LGBT Cancer Network, the risk of dying from colorectal and other types of cancer may be higher for gay men due to challenges in accessing appropriate healthcare.

Here, learn more about the life expectancy for people with stage 4 colon cancer.

Prevention

Colorectal cancer can affect anyone, and it is not possible to prevent it. However, some measures may help reduce the risk.

Screening

Current guidelines from the American College of Physicians recommend regular screening for people who:

  • have a personal or family history of colorectal cancer
  • are Black Americans aged 45 years or over
  • are not Black, over 50, and have an average risk
  • have Crohn’s disease, Lynch syndrome, or adenomatous polyposis

A doctor will recommend a specific schedule of screening. For example, they may recommend a stool test every 2 years and a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy every 10 years.

Nutrition

Dietary measures that may help reduce the risk include:

  • eating plenty of fiber, fruits, and vegetables
  • eating quality carbohydrates
  • limiting the intake of red and processed meats.
  • opting for healthy fats, such as avocadosolive oilfish oils, and nuts, instead of saturated fats

Exercise and weight

Moderate, regular exercise may help lower the risk of colorectal cancer. Exercise can also help reduce the risk of obesity, which is linked with colorectal and other cancers.

Aspirin

ExpertsTrusted Source have found that taking aspirin may help reduce the risk in some people, but speak with a doctor about this first.

Vaccines

Researchers are investigating the potential for vaccines to prevent colorectal cancer. One option that has been successful in mice is a vaccine that stops polyps from becoming cancerous. This might one day help people with a high risk.

Takeaway

Colorectal cancer is a common type and a leading cause of cancer-related death. Treatment in the early stages can remove cancerous cells and increase the chances of a positive outcome.

However, symptoms may not appear until the later stages. Anyone with a risk of developing colorectal cancer should ask a doctor about screening. Having regular screening improves the chances of an early diagnosis

News for patients

Source: Colorectal cancer: Symptoms, treatment, risk factors and more

Woman Having Mammogram Screening For Breast Cancer

Breast cancer: Symptoms, causes, and treatment

  • September 13, 2021

Breast cancer is the most common invasive cancer in women and the second leading cause of cancer death in women after lung cancer.

Advances in screening and treatment for breast cancer have improved survival rates dramatically since 1989. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), there are more than 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. The chance of any woman dying from breast cancer is around 1 in 38 (2.6%).

The ACS estimate that 268,600 women will receive a diagnosis of invasive breast cancer, and 62,930 people will receive a diagnosis of noninvasive cancer in 2019.

In the same year, the ACS report that 41,760 women will die as a result of breast cancer. However, due to advances in treatment, death rates from breast cancer have been decreasing since 1989.

Awareness of the symptoms and the need for screening are important ways of reducing the risk. In rare instances, breast cancer can also affect men, but this article will focus on breast cancer in women. Learn about breast cancer in men here.

Symptoms

A Woman Wondering What There Is To Know About Breast Cancer
Regular screenings are important to reduce the risks of breast cancer.

The first symptoms of breast cancer usually appear as an area of thickened tissue in the breast or a lump in the breast or an armpit.

Other symptoms include:

  • pain in the armpits or breast that does not change with the monthly cycle
  • pitting or redness of the skin of the breast, similar to the surface of an orange
  • a rash around or on one of the nipples
  • discharge from a nipple, possibly containing blood
  • a sunken or inverted nipple
  • a change in the size or shape of the breast
  • peeling, flaking, or scaling of the skin on the breast or nipple

Most breast lumps are not cancerous. However, women should visit a doctor for an examination if they notice a lump on the breast.

Stages

A doctor stages cancer according to the size of the tumor and whether it has spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body.

There are different ways of staging breast cancer. One way is from stage 0–4, with subdivided categories at each numbered stage. Descriptions of the four main stages are listed below, though the specific substage of a cancer may also depend on other specific characteristics of the tumor, such as HER2 receptor status.

  • Stage 0: Known as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), the cells are limited to within the ducts and have not invaded surrounding tissues.
  • Stage 1: At this stage, the tumor measures up to 2 centimeters (cm) across. It has not affected any lymph nodes, or there are small groups of cancer cells in the lymph nodes.
  • Stage 2: The tumor is 2 cm across, and it has started to spread to nearby nodes, or is 2–5 cm across and has not spread to the lymph nodes.
  • Stage 3: The tumor is up to 5 cm across, and it has spread to several lymph nodes or the tumor is larger than 5 cm and has spread to a few lymph nodes.
  • Stage 4: The cancer has spread to distant organs, most often the bones, liver, brain, or lungs.

Causes

After puberty, a woman’s breast consists of fat, connective tissue, and thousands of lobules. These are tiny glands that produce milk for breastfeeding. Tiny tubes, or ducts, carry the milk toward the nipple.

Cancer causes the cells to multiply uncontrollably. They do not die at the usual point in their life cycle. This excessive cell growth causes cancer because the tumor uses nutrients and energy and deprives the cells around it.

Breast cancer usually starts in the inner lining of milk ducts or the lobules that supply them with milk. From there, it can spread to other parts of the body.

Risk factors

The exact cause of breast cancer remains unclear, but some risk factors make it more likely. It is possible to prevent some of these risk factors.

1. Age

The risk of breast cancer increases with age. At 20 years, the chance of developing breast cancer in the next decade is 0.06%. By the age of 70 years, this figure goes up to 3.84%.

2. Genetics

Women who carry certain mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have a higher chance of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or both. People inherit these genes from their parents.

Mutations in the TP53 gene also have links to increased breast cancer risk.

If a close relative has or has had breast cancer, a person’s chance of developing breast cancer increases.

Current guidelines recommendTrusted Source that people in the following groups seek genetic testing:

  • those with a family history of breast, ovarian, fallopian tube, or peritoneal cancer
  • those in whose ancestry there is a history of breast cancer related to BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations, for example, people with Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry

3. A history of breast cancer or breast lumps

Women who have previously had breast cancer are more likely to have it again than those who have no history of the disease.

Having some types of noncancerous breast lump increases the chance of developing cancer later on. Examples include atypical ductal hyperplasia or lobular carcinoma in situ.

Individuals with a history of breast, ovarian, fallopian tube, or peritoneal cancer should ask their doctorsTrusted Source about genetic testing.

4. Dense breast tissue

Women with more dense breasts are more likely to receive a diagnosis of breast cancer.

Read more about dense breast tissue, here.

5. Estrogen exposure and breastfeeding

A Woman In A Colourful Top Breastfeeding Her Baby
Breastfeeding for over 1 year appears to reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Extended exposure to estrogen appears to increase the risk of breast cancer.

This could be due to a person starting their periods earlier or entering menopause at a later than average age. Between these times, estrogen levels are higher.

Breastfeeding, especially for over 1 year, appears to reduce the chance of developing breast cancer. This is possibly due to the drop in estrogen exposure that follows pregnancy and breastfeeding.

6. Body weight

Women who become overweight or develop obesity after menopause may also have a higher chance of developing breast cancer, possibly due to increased estrogen levels. High sugar intake may also be a factor.

7. Alcohol consumption

A higher rate of regular alcohol consumption appears to play a role in breast cancer development.

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), studies have consistently found that women who consume alcohol have a higher risk of breast cancer than those who do not. Those who drink moderate to heavy levels of alcohol have a higher risk than light drinkers.

8. Radiation exposure

Undergoing radiation treatment for a different cancer may increase the risk of developing breast cancer later in life.

9. Hormone treatments

According to the NCI, studies have shown that oral contraceptives may slightly increase the risk of breast cancer

According to the ACS, studies have found that hormone replacement therapy (HRT), specifically estrogen-progesterone therapy (EPT), is related to an increased risk of breast cancer.

Cosmetic implants and breast cancer survival

2013 reviewTrusted Source found that women with cosmetic breast implants who received a diagnosis of breast cancer also had a higher risk of dying from the disease.

This could be due to the implants masking cancer during screening or because the implants bring about changes in breast tissue.

However, a 2015 reviewTrusted Source published in Aesthetic Surgery Journal found that having cosmetic breast implant surgery did not increase the risk of breast cancer.

Scientists need to carry out more research to confirm the link.

Types

There are several different types of breast cancer, including:

  • Ductal carcinoma: This begins in the milk duct and is the most common type.
  • Lobular carcinoma: This starts in the lobules.

Invasive breast cancer occurs when the cancer cells break out from inside the lobules or ducts and invade nearby tissue. This increases the chance of cancer spreading to other parts of the body.

Noninvasive breast cancer develops when the cancer remains inside its place of origin and has not yet spread. However, these cells can sometimes progress to invasive breast cancer.

Diagnosis

A doctor often diagnoses breast cancer as the result of routine screening or when a woman approaches her doctor after detecting symptoms.

Several diagnostic tests and procedures help to confirm a diagnosis.

Breast exam

The doctor will check the breasts for lumps and other symptoms.

During the examination, the person may need to sit or stand with their arms in different positions, such as above their head or by their sides.

Imaging tests

Several tests can help detect breast cancer.

Mammogram: This is a type of X-ray that doctors commonly use during an initial breast cancer screening. It produces images that can help a doctor detect any lumps or abnormalities.

A doctor will usually follow any suspicious results with further testing. However, mammography sometimes shows a suspicious area that turns out not to be cancer.

Ultrasound: This scan uses sound waves to help a doctor differentiate between a solid mass and a fluid-filled cyst.

MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) combines different images of the breast to help a doctor identify cancer or other abnormalities. A doctor may recommend an MRI as a follow-up to a mammogram or ultrasound. Doctors sometimes use them as a screening tool for those at higher risk of breast cancer.

Here, learn more about how to prepare for a mammogram.

Biopsy

In a biopsy, the doctor extracts a sample of tissue and sends it for laboratory analysis.

This shows whether the cells are cancerous. If they are, a biopsy indicates which type of cancer has developed, including whether or not the cancer is hormone sensitive.

Diagnosis also involves staging the cancer to establish:

  • the size of a tumor
  • how far it has spread
  • whether it is invasive or noninvasive

Staging provides a picture of a person’s chances of recovery and their ideal course of treatment.

Treatment

Treatment will depend on several factors, including:

  • the type and stage of the cancer
  • the person’s sensitivity to hormones
  • the age, overall health, and preferences of the individual

The main treatment options include:

radiation therapy

  • surgery
  • biological therapy, or targeted drug therapy
  • hormone therapy
  • chemotherapy

Factors affecting the type of treatment a person has will include the stage of the cancer, other medical conditions, and their individual preference.

Surgery

If surgery is necessary, the type will depend on both the diagnosis and individual preference. Types of surgery include:

Lumpectomy: This involves removing the tumor and a small amount of healthy tissue around it.

A lumpectomy can help prevent the spread of the cancer. This may be an option if the tumor is small and easy to separate from its surrounding tissue.

Mastectomy: A simple mastectomy involves removing the lobules, ducts, fatty tissue, nipple, areola, and some skin. In some types, a surgeon will also remove the lymph nodes and muscle in the chest wall.

Here, learn about the different types of mastectomy.

Sentinel node biopsy: If breast cancer reaches the sentinel lymph nodes, which are the first nodes to which a cancer can spread, it can spread into other parts of the body through the lymphatic system. If the doctor does not find cancer in the sentinel nodes, then it is usually not necessary to remove the remaining nodes.

Axillary lymph node dissection: If a doctor finds cancer cells in the sentinel nodes, they may recommend removing several lymph nodes in the armpit. This can prevent the cancer from spreading.

Reconstruction: Following mastectomy, a surgeon can reconstruct the breast to look more natural. This can help a person cope with the psychological effects of breast removal.

The surgeon can reconstruct the breast at the same time as performing a mastectomy or at a later date. They may use a breast implant or tissue from another part of the body.

Find out more about breast reconstruction surgery.

Radiation therapy

A person may undergo radiation therapy around a month after surgery. Radiation involves targeting the tumor with controlled doses of radiation that kill any remaining cancer cells.

Learn more about the benefits and adverse effects of radiation therapy.

Chemotherapy

A doctor may prescribe cytotoxic chemotherapy drugs to kill cancer cells if there is a high risk of recurrence or spread. When a person has chemotherapy after surgery, doctors call it adjuvant chemotherapy.

Sometimes, a doctor may choose to administer chemotherapy before surgery to shrink the tumor and make its removal easier. Doctors call this neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

Learn more about chemotherapy here.

Hormone blocking therapy

Doctors use hormone blocking therapy to prevent hormone sensitive breast cancers from returning after treatment. Hormone therapy may be used to treat estrogen receptor (ER)-positive and progesterone receptor (PR)-positive cancers.

They usually administer hormone blocking therapy after surgery but might sometimes use it beforehand to shrink the tumor.

Hormone blocking therapy may be the only option for people who are not suitable candidates for surgery, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy.

Doctors may recommend a person has hormone therapy for 5–10 years after surgery. However, the treatment will not affect cancers that are not sensitive to hormones.

Examples of hormone blocking therapy medications may include:

  • tamoxifen
  • aromatase inhibitors
  • ovarian ablation or suppression
  • Goserelin, which is a luteinizing hormone-releasing agonist drug that suppresses the ovaries

Hormone treatment may affect fertility.

Biological treatment

Targeted drugs can destroy specific types of breast cancer. Examples include:

  • trastuzumab (Herceptin)
  • lapatinib (Tykerb)
  • bevacizumab (Avastin)

Treatments for breast and other cancers can have severe adverse effects. When deciding on a treatment, people should discuss the potential risks with a doctor and look at ways to minimize the side effects.

Outlook

A person’s outlook with breast cancer depends on the staging. Early detection and treatment usually lead to a positive outlook.

According to the ACS, a person who receives treatment for stage 0 or stage 1 breast cancer has a 99% chance of surviving for at least 5 years after being diagnosed, when compared to women who do not have cancer.

If breast cancer reaches stage 4, the chance of surviving another 5 years reduces to around 27%.

Regular checks and screening can help detect symptoms early. Women should discuss their options with a doctor.

Regular screening

Woman Having Mammogram Screening For Breast Cancer
The American College of Radiologists recommend yearly screenings for women of average risk who are over 40 years of age.

There are several different guidelines for how often women should have breast cancer screening.

The American College of Physicians (ACP) recommendTrusted Source that women aged 40–49 years with an average risk of breast cancer should discuss the benefits and risks of regular screenings with a doctor.

Between 50 and 74 years of age, women who have an average risk should undertake screenings every 2 years. Beyond 75 years of age, doctors only recommend screenings for women with a life expectancy of 10 or more years.

The ACS suggest that women of average risk can choose to have yearly scans from the age of 40 years onward. Those who have not should start annual screening at 45 years of age. They may decide to switch to screenings every other year when they reach 55 years of age.

The American College of Radiologists recommend screenings every year, starting from 40 years of age.

Despite the different recommendations, most experts agree that women should talk to their doctors about breast cancer screening from 40 years of age onward.

Prevention

There is no way to prevent breast cancer. However, certain lifestyle decisions can significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer as well as other types.

These include:

  • avoiding excessive alcohol consumption
  • following a healthful diet containing plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
  • getting enough exercise
  • maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI)

Women should consider their options for breastfeeding and the use of HRT following menopause, as these can also increase the risk.

Preventive surgery is also an option for women at high risk of breast cancer.

The Breast Cancer Healthline app provides people with access to an online breast cancer community, where users can connect with others and gain advice and support through group discussions.

Source: Breast cancer: Symptoms, causes, and treatment

Project PERSIST among the great EU-funded innovations

  • September 10, 2021

Project PERSIST was distinguished as an innovation in the Innovation Radar platform of the European Commission.

The Innovation Radar platform builds on the information and data gathered by independent experts involved in reviewing ongoing research and innovation projects funded by the European Commission. The aim is to make information about EU-funded innovations from high-quality projects visible and accessible to the public.

Project PERSIST was highlighted with three innovations:

  • Development and use of an open-source interoperable ecosystem and development of clinical protocols and establish a co-creation methodology;
  • Experimental innovation by using AI learning techniques, and
  • Innovation of implementation by using the high-risk platform and clinical testing and validation.

The platform has assessed PERSIST innovations as having high or noteworthy market creation potential. More information can be found at: https://www.innoradar.eu/resultbykeyword/PERSIST.

The importance of multi-stakeholder collaboration in transforming breast cancer control in Europe

  • July 20, 2021

Breast cancer. A frequent diagnosis that is echoed in hospitals across Europe and across the world. Breast cancer remains one of the most common cancers in EU countries, with 355,457 cases diagnosed in 2020(link is external). It accounts for 28.7% of all new cancers in women, with European women having a 1 in 11 chance of developing breast cancer. In my home country Ireland alone, more than 3,700 cases are detected annually(link is external)

Despite recent advancements in breast cancer care and survival, there is still much to be done – from prevention to aftercare. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated these challenges. During the past year, patients have not only struggled to access quality procedures throughout the whole care pathway, but many have refrained from seeking out screening opportunities due to the fear of infection. As breast cancer is treatable if detected early enough, this will have a devastating impact.

Breast cancer is a topic close to my heart and has been a consistent policy area throughout my political career. From my work with Europa Donna Ireland(link is external), the Irish chapter of the leading pan-European breast cancer coalition, to my support for the Marie Keating Foundation(link is external), breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and care has been a constant theme.

In light of a fresh impetus for cancer care at EU level, I want to reiterate my support for a multi-stakeholder model and collaboration when it comes to tackling cancer and to explain the work of Transforming Breast Cancer Together (TBCT), a multi-stakeholder coalition committed to breast cancer advocacy and policy which I chair.

TBCT: Ensuring that breast cancer is an EU health policy priority

Our multi-stakeholder initiative was established in 2017 and has significantly grown in members and activities since then. At TBCT, policymakers, patient and professional organisations and companies come together with the joint goal of elevating breast cancer to ensure that it is an EU health policy priority. To date, we have 13 members bringing their unique perspectives as we aim for improved breast cancer prevention, diagnosis and care across Europe. TBCT has provided active input into the European Commission consultation process on Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan and continues to take part in discussions with all EU institutions to highlight this crucial topic.

I believe that collaboration allows us to exploit opportunities in ways that have a greater impact as we are able to focus on topics and issues that, individually in our organisations, we would not be able to explore. Due to our diversity and multitude of expertise – encompassing medical front-line knowledge, patient perspectives, industry know-how and policy-maker insights – we can better relate to the variety of challenges that cancer patients are facing. Each organisation brings contributions to the initiative whilst the TBCT secretariat ensures consistency and provides guidance for our activities. We meet monthly to exchange views and organise advocacy work, which has been carefully planned and agreed to by all parties at the beginning of the year. At the same time, we remain flexible and react to unforeseen developments in the health policy space.

Our most recent milestone has been the publication of a Renewed Call for Change(link is external), which highlights the challenges and lessons learned from COVID-19 and the importance of the implementation of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan(link is external) to reduce existing inequalities and guarantee the best care for breast cancer patients in the EU. As such, we call for more investment in prevention and screening as well as for better treatment and aftercare.

We are currently exploring opportunities to share our experiences and activities at both global and regional levels. I am convinced there is a wealth of knowledge that we can exchange with others to ensure that Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan is implemented for the benefit of all EU patients, regardless of their place of residence. At the same time, we should share our success stories and examples of positive collaboration globally to learn from each other and work towards developing a shared vision, which is crucial to fight this devastating disease.

Inspiring cancer advocacy

The TBCT initiative has grown and contributed to increasing the recognition of the challenges posed by early and advanced breast cancer among decision-makers, patients, advocates and the general public. However, our work does not and cannot stop there. COVID-19 has brought severe disruption to cancer services but also has shown the benefit of collaboration. Our next milestone is to support the implementation of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan by highlighting the importance of the seamless transposition of the recommendations within the Plan to National Cancer Control Plans in all EU countries. It is crucial that those affected by breast cancer can have equal access to safe and quality procedures and can enjoy the same quality of life regardless of their location.

In that sense, I hope that TBCT can serve as inspiration for further advocacy activities in the cancer space – perhaps also in different regions outside the EU. The global oncology landscape is diverse yet we all strive towards the same goal: to better the lives of cancer patients. As such, I would encourage all stakeholders to engage in an open dialogue to share their experiences, expertise and with a view to developing a strategic collaboration that can bring positive change to breast cancer patients, survivors and their families.

Information

  • Blog entry by Frances Fitzgerald, Irish Member of the European Parliament, Chair of Transforming Breast Cancer Together.
  • Full article could be found at UICC Website.

A Look Beyond Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan

  • July 12, 2021

By 2030 more than 3 million lives saved, living longer and better

The PERSIST consortium held an online event on June 30th, 2021, to discuss and inform a wide range of stakeholders, regarding technical and medical aspects of the project, along with how it fits with the expectations expressed, both by Europe’s Cancer Beating Plan and the future development of projects under the Horizon 2020 framework. Under the skilled moderation of Nicola Bedlington – a special advisor to the European Patients’ Forum – members of the consortium presented general information about the project, its technical characteristics and operability, developed from challenge to innovation and the clinical study, which reveals the added value of the project to clinicians and the patient centered aspect of the project.

Annika Nowak, a Policy Officer from DG “Research and Innovation” to the European Commission, presented the basics of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan and its four pillars: (1) prevention; (2) early detection; (3) diagnosis and treatment; and (4) quality of life of cancer patients and survivors​. She also paid attention to the proposed Mission on Cancer – one of the five missions under Horizon Europe Research and innovation Programme. “By 2030, more than 3 million lives saved, living longer and better”​ is the overall goal of the initiative, which aims to ensure equitable access in cancer’s prevention, diagnostics and treatment, as well as to work towards support and better quality of life. Annika Nowak stressed upon the importance of initiatives aiming at the smooth transition and returning to work for cancer survivors, as well as at family members’ support for cancer patients – both being part of the project PERSIST’s mission.

“One of the most innovative features of PERSIST is the creation of patients’ engagement mobile application, collecting data from the patients that has not been actively collected before and including data on patient’s own perception.”, said Rafael Perez from Dedalus, during his presentation of PERSIST technical characteristics. “We are always following a patient-centered approach, we need to provide care individualized as much as possible”. Rafael also pointed out on what PERSIST will offer to clinicians – predicted patients’ trajectories, which will help to provide them with targeted and individualized decisions.

Dina Bema from the Institute of Clinical and Preventive Medicine of the University of Latvia explained how the clinical part of PERSIST addresses the unmet needs of cancer patients after their respective treatment. While presenting the current standing of PERSIST multicentre clinical trial and functionalities of the mHeath application, she emphasized that the project could empower patients as the technology could also be used to help find the trustful and useful information for each patient. “We are also bringing generations closer together as the participants in our clinical trial sometimes involve their children or grandchildren in order to help them with the technology”, Dina said.

The project coordinator Victoria Cal from GRADIANT, who made a general overview of PERSIST, also explained that in order to keep the patients at the center of attention, the project started with a survey to check how the patients feel, allowing traceability for their unmet needs. “During the clinical study, our goal is to check that what we are doing is indeed what they need.” She gave some examples, on how technologies can address the unmet needs of cancer survivors, but emphasized that what makes PERSIST different and unique is that it also aims at addressing psychological issues.

During the event, a special video statement from MEP Tomislav Sokol (member of the Special Committee on Beating Cancer – BECA) was presented to the audience. In his address to all attendees, he underlined the following: “It’s important to consolidate and secure a health data sharing infrastructure… Further, increase efficacy in cancer treatment and follow-up by providing prediction from Big data that will support decision making and contribute to optimal treatment decisions and the health status of survivors.”

A Look Beyond Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan

  • June 22, 2021

How we PERSIST with cancer patient-centered care plans across Europe

Online event of Project PERSIST
30 June, 2021 / 11:00 – 12:30 CET
Platform: Microsoft Teams (online)
Registration form: JotForm link

Access for patients to high quality, affordable, timely and innovative cancer care is a key element in the fight against cancer. Good healthcare services improve patient outcomes, reduce the suffering and side effects of treatments as much as possible and enhance the quality of life for survivors. Good healthcare outcomes also contribute to the efficiency and sustainability of the health care systems.

Therefore, the main goal of PERSIST is to develop an open and interoperable ecosystem to improve the care of cancer survivors. The key results to be achieved by consortium partners are:

(1) increased self-efficacy and satisfaction with care as well as reduced psychological stress for a better management of the consequences of the cancer treatment and the disease, resulting in an improvement in health and wellbeing and a faster integration into the labor market, where applicable, compared to usual care;

(2) increased effectiveness in cancer treatment and follow-up by providing prediction models from Big Data that will support decision-making and contribute to optimal treatment decisions with positive consequences in the QoL and the health status of survivors; and

(3) improved information and evidence to advance the efficacy of management, intervention and prevention policies/strategies in order to timely treat side effects and, if possible, avoid secondary diseases and fatal events, while the long-term result will be to reduce the socio-economic burden related to cancer survivors’ care.

Objectives
Against this background, the PERSIST consortium will organize an online event to discuss and inform the audience, regarding:

* Project PERSIST, including all technical and medical aspects of the project. It will explain what the added value is, for both patients and medical personnel. What is the vision of the project and consortium partners? What is the unique role of each partner in the field and in the project?

* To what extent the projects fits with the expectations expressed both by Europe’s Cancer Beating Plan and the future development of projects under the Horizon 2020 framework? It will showcase the importance of digitalization and innovation in the field of cancer, and namely “a modern approach to cancer: new technologies, research and innovation at the service of patient-centered cancer prevention and care”.

* The discussion to follow will take a look at the stakeholder perspective and will answer all questions raised during the presentations and interventions of the speakers.

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