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Port Moody Health Breast Cancer Tests

At Port Moody Health, we offer a preventative and proactive approach to assessing breast health. To appreciate how breast cancer can be prevented, it is important to first understand how cancer develops and what occurs long before a tumor is actually detected by mammography or clinical and/or self-breast exam. Cancer is a very complex and multi-factorial disease and cancerous changes typically begin 10-20 years before a lesion is found and/or symptoms of malignancy arise.

Everyone is at risk of developing cancer, even those who may feel and appear to be very healthy because there are many factors for which we cannot control – namely, our environment. Having said that, there are many factors that will influence whether or not a woman will develop breast cancer and many are within our control.

Our physicians begin with a comprehensive evaluation to identify the factors that play a key role in the development of breast cancer. Breast cancer tests are something all women should perform regularly. This includes an assessment of family history (genetics), personal history, environmental exposures, diet, lifestyle behaviors, nutrition and hormones. Once we have an imprint of your health history and present health status, we can devise a personalized cancer prevention strategy that includes dietary and lifestyle recommendations, along with other interventions (such as nutritional supplementation, detoxification) as indicated.

Tests For Breast Health Assessment

Specific hormone testing (using urine, saliva and/or blood) evaluates hormone health and parameters associated with greater or lesser risk for hormone-driven cancers. For example, it is important to evaluate the level of progesterone to estrogen – a higher ratio is associated with lower risk of hormonal cancers such as breast, ovarian, uterine and prostate. The best way to assess estrogen and progesterone is with a saliva and/or urinary steroids assessment. These tests panels also determine your levels of testosterone, DHEAs and cortisol levels.

If indicated, evaluation of toxic heavy metals and vitamin D testing may be recommended. Nutritional and antioxidant status can be determined with comprehensive organic acids testing and help to identify the critical nutritional needs that are not being met by diet and assesses the individual’s detoxification capabilities. Such comprehensive and functional testing offers greater insight on the factors that contribute to an individual’s risk for disease and provides the data required to take the guess work out of prescribing treatments, thereby allowing your naturopath physician to make customize a personalized treatment plan.

There are many other benefits to early hormone evaluation and nutritional evaluation. Pre-menopausal women who have healthy hormone balance and higher nutritional status prior to becoming peri-menopausal, are far less likely to suffer the common symptoms of menopause (night sweats, weight gain, mood swings, hot flashes, etc.) and tend to enjoy more calm during this transition.

When it comes to breast cancer screening, we provide you with screening recommendations on a personalized basis which includes a discussion on your personal preferences for screening, the harms and benefits of routine screening with mammography, and other options for screening that may be better suited to you.

Learn more information about CTC’s referred to as circulating tumor cell test, and cancer biomarker testing by clicking on the words.

To book an appointment with one of our physicians, call (604) 949-0077 or email info@portmoodyhealth.com
cancer centre vancouver
Breast Cancer Prevention

Breast Cancer Prevention

By Dr. Sharon Gurm BSc, ND

NUTRITION IN CANCER

It is no longer a question of whether nutrition should be a fundamental piece of the global treatment in cancer care, but rather how. Under the care of the right physician – one who is current with information, experienced and qualified – anyone dealing with cancer can learn how to implement effective dietary and nutritional strategies to improve their current state of health, enhance treatment outcomes, prevent recurrence and mitigate disease-related impact on quality of life.

NUTRITION IN CANCER CARE IS A SCIENCE

Despite the robust evidence for the role of nutrition in cancer care,1-3 when patients are engaged in a purely conventional cancer treatment approach, most often their individual nutritional needs are either overlooked or dismissed entirely. There can be many reasons for this, but most often it simply has to do with the assigned oncologist. There is tremendous variability among oncologists – just as there is among naturopathic physicians, medical physicians and other types of health care practitioners. No two are going to be exactly alike in their knowledge base and approach to care, and each is entitled to their ‘opinion’ that can be easily misconstrued as ‘medical fact’. Many people undergoing cancer care are advised by their oncologist that ‘nutrition doesn’t matter’ or ‘don’t change how you’re eating’ or ‘do not take any nutritional supplements because they will interact with your treatments’. Such advice is counter to the evidence and is misleading to patients, often due to the oncologist’s limited knowledge and understanding about nutrition in cancer as well as their own unsubstantiated and blanket viewpoint that all antioxidants will negatively interact with medications and radiotherapy.

 

“There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance.”
― Hippocrates

In medicine, if we view health and disease through a narrow lens, ultimately it impacts patient outcomes. Advice to avoid nutritional strategies in cancer care is contrary to evidence informing us that, independent of the type of treatment strategy, the quality of pre-treatment nutrition is one of the only methods that sustains significant impact on patient outcomes 3 months or longer post-treatment.4,5

In my practice, I interface with many oncologists who vary in their position on naturopathic and nutritional care in cancer. Some have advised my patients to engage in intravenous vitamin C therapy, while others don’t even want patients to change the way they eat because they fear the nutrients in healthy food may interact with their chemotherapy or radiation. Recently, there is a greater trend toward oncologists modernizing their viewpoint on nutrition in cancer care and embracing an integrative approach with other health care practitioners, such as naturopathic doctors – but this still represents only a small portion of oncologists in our country.

It’s important to recognize that while there are definite considerations for food or nutrient interactions with drug, radiotherapy or surgical interventions, there is also a vast amount of science and research that guides naturopathic doctors specializing in cancer care in the dietary, nutritional and adjunctive therapies we recommend to patients.

THE SENSIBILITY OF INTEGRATIVE CANCER CARE

Let’s use an analogy in nature to illustrate the dynamic between disease, cancer treatments and nutrition. Would you expect to revive a withered plant embedded in unhealthy soil? The soil is the terrain that provides nourishment for the plant – the healthier the soil, the stronger the plant and the better it responds to water and sunlight. If the soil were stripped and was suddenly the harsh elements of external forces (stormy weather, extremes of temperature or drought), how would you expect it to survive if it wasn’t strong and vital to begin with?

Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are often part of the treatment regimens most will endure as part of their cancer care. These are forces that demand great physical and emotional strength to overcome. While cancer is obviously far more complex than the plant-soil-environment analogy, it serves as an important reminder for us to observe and appreciate the fundamental laws of nature. If we neglect the simple pieces of the equation, it can spell a formula for disaster.

Good sense informs us that if we are strong, vital and healthy leading into battle, the less damage we will encounter, the easier the recovery and the greater the likelihood for victory against the enemy – in this case, cancer.

If chemotherapy and radiation is the ammunition we use against the enemy, nutrition is our body armor that offers protection against the opposition.

Observations in nature, clinical experience, robust outcomes data from scientific and clinical studies and a respectful approach to informed, mutual decision making between doctor-patient (one that considers a patient’s personal values), ultimately define the sensibility of the modern evidence-based medical model in integrative cancer care.6

Breast Cancer Prevention
Breast Cancer Prevention

WHAT SHOULD I EAT IF I HAVE CANCER?

There is no straightforward answer to what diet you should follow if you have cancer. There are many phases to cancer care: the pretreatment phase, treatment phase (chemo, radiation, surgery), post-treatment healing phase and maintenance (prevention of recurrence). The individual needs during each of these phases will vary depending on a multitude of factors. While there are some general guidelines you can follow, specific nutritional needs must be met and may require modification along the way depending on the type of cancer, the select therapies, tolerability of treatments and the nature of the disease.

For example, in the case of gastrointestinal tumors (such as gastric cancer or colon cancer), intestinal absorption of nutrients is compromised and is a significant factor in prognosis.7 Despite a healthy diet, nutritional deficiencies are inevitable, but can be addressed though vegetable juicing (to optimize absorption) or with intravenous or parenteral nutrition.

REPLACE PROCESSED FOODS WITH “WHOLE FOODS”

While nutritional care does need to be individualized, there are some general guidelines you can follow. Start by eating a ‘whole food’ diet.8 A whole food diet is free from processed foods, unhealthy fats, refined sugars and alcohol. Instead the diet consists of fruits, plenty of vegetables, moderate amounts of complex carbohydrates (from grains like quinoa, brown rice, millet and oats), lean proteins (from fish, poultry, lean meat, beans, soy) and healthy fats (from oils, nuts and seeds).

Whole, unprocessed foods retain more of their nutrition and are more easily digested than their processed counterparts, thereby optimizing nutrient absorption and energy from food, giving you more out of what you consume. Processed foods also create more inflammation in the body and inflammation is a driving force in the initiation, progression and recurrence of cancer.9,10

CAN NATUROPATHIC CANCER TREATMENTS BE USED IN COMBINATION WITH CONVENTIONAL TREATMENTS?

Many naturopathic cancer therapies can be safely combined with chemotherapy, radiation and surgical intervention when, and if, appropriate. When used in conjunction with conventional treatments, natural cancer therapies have been clinically and scientifically proven to enhance the effects of conventional treatment(8,10,11,25,45,57,59,63,93,94),  significantly reduce the number and severity of common side effects(7,38,64,65,89,90), improve quality of life, increase survival and reduce the risk of recurrence(10,11,92).

In the case of advanced stage or terminal cancer, conventional treatments are often not the best choice as there is little to no benefit to be gained from chemotherapy and/or radiation, and in fact, in most cases, outcomes and quality of life is significantly comprised by these invasive therapies. However, naturopathic cancer therapies such as diet, intravenous vitamin C, acupuncture and mind-body strategies have been proven to increase longevity and improve quality of life in advanced stage and terminal cancer(24,46,49,95).

Learn more information about CTC’s referred to as circulation tumour cell test, and cancer biomarker testing by clicking on the words.

PREVENT MALNUTRITION + REDUCE INFLAMMATION = BETTER OUTCOMES IN CANCER

Up to 85% of all patients with cancer develop clinical malnutrition, which negatively affects their response to therapy, increases the incidence of treatment-related side effects and can decrease survival.11 Early intervention to prevent malnutrition has shown to promote recovery, reduce hospital stay and improve prognosis and quality of life.2 To compound the nutritional conundrum, certain cancer treatments themselves (such as chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, immunotherapy and stem cell transplant) can make it difficult to eat well due to associated side effects (mouth sores, nausea, vomiting, reduced appetite, diarrhea, constipation, pain, difficulty swallowing, fatigue, depression) and can alter the way the body uses nutrients.

Malnutrition weakens the immune system, causing a drop in white blood cells and reducing resistance to infection. As a consequence, chemotherapy treatments may be delayed or missed or in some cases even stopped altogether, compromising the treatment outcome and the patient’s chance for full recovery.

Studies have found certain biomarkers of systemic inflammation (parameters that can be measured in blood, such as C-Reactive Protein or CRP) can predict malnourishment in cancer patients and are correlated with overall prognosis.12-14 These biomarkers of inflammation are useful to monitor throughout the course of treatment as functional indicators of disease status and provide therapeutic targets for nutritional intervention.15. Studies on high-dose intravenous vitamin C (HD-IVC) and the impact on inflammation in cancer reveal that HD-IVC significantly reduces CRP and pro-inflammatory cytokines, offering therapeutic value in cancer care alone and in conjunction with certain chemotherapies and radiation.16-20

NUTRITION IS A LIFELONG COMMITMENT TO YOUR HEALTH

Nutrition clearly plays a critical role in the management of cancer throughout the spectrum of care – from the pivotal time of initial diagnosis and pre-treatment preparation, through to the long-term continuum of care when the goals are to prevent recurrence, reduce risk of death from disease related to treatment (such as heart disease and stroke), increase longevity and improve quality of life. With professional guidance, nutrition can be powerfully leveraged to engage the body’s innate ability to heal and adapt to adversity.

The right elements of food and nutrition provide strength to the vital force within all of us to help fight even the most destructive of diseases – like cancer – and regain the inner balance that aligns our mind, body and spiritual health.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”
― Hippocrates

For more information or to schedule your appointment with Dr. Gurm, call (604) 949-0077 or email us at info@portmoodyhealth.com

  1. References:1. Lis CG, et al. Role of nutritional status in predicting quality of life outcomes in cancer–a systematic review of the epidemiological literature. Nutr J. 2012 Apr 24;11:27.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/225314782. Gupta D, et al. Role of nutritional status in predicting the length of stay in cancer: a systematic review of the epidemiological literature. Ann Nutr Metab. 2011;59(2-4):96-106.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/221427193. Ravasco P, et al. Does nutrition influence quality of life in cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy? Radiother Oncol. 2003 May;67(2):213-20.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/128128534. Ravasco P, et al. Dietary counseling improves patient outcomes: a prospective, randomized, controlled trial in colorectal cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy. J Clin Oncol. 2005 Mar 1;23(7):1431-8.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/156843195. Rock CL. Dietary counseling is beneficial for the patient with cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2005 Mar 1;23(7):1348-9.
    http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/23/7/1348.long6. Meyskens FL Jr, Szabo E. Diet and cancer: the disconnect between epidemiology and randomized clinical trials. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Jun;14(6):1366-9.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/159419427. Poziomyck AK, et al. Preoperative nutritional assessment and prognosis in patients with foregut tumors. Nutr Cancer. 2012;64(8):1174-81.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/231638468. Pretreatment dietary patterns, weight status, and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma prognosis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013; 97(2):360-368.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/232698149. Lee S, et al. High-sensitivity C-reactive protein and cancer. J Epidemiol. 2011;21(3):161-8.
    https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jea/21/3/21_JE20100128/_pdf10. Ko KJ, et al. High-sensitivity C-reactive protein levels and cancer mortality. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2012 Nov;21(11):2076-86.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2313625511. Davies, M. Nutritional screening and assessment in cancer-associated malnutrition. Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2005;9 Suppl 2:S64-73.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Davies%2C+M.+Nutritional+screening+and+assessment+in+cancer-associated+malnutrition.+Eur+J+Oncol+Nurs.+2005%3B9+Suppl+2%3AS64-73.12. Gomes, KV. Nutritional status, systemic inflammation and prognosis of patients with gastrointestinal cancer. Nutr Hosp. 2012 May-Jun;27(3):707-14.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2311493413. Turnock A, et al. Perioperative Immunonutrition in Well-Nourished Patients Undergoing Surgery for Head and Neck Cancer: Evaluation of Inflammatory and Immunologic Outcomes. Nutrients 2013; 5:1186-1199.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705342/pdf/nutrients-05-01186.pdf14. McMillan DC. An inflammation-based prognostic score and its role in the nutrition-based management of patients with cancer. Proc Nutr Soc. 2008 Aug;67(3):257-62.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1845264115. McMillan DC. Systemic inflammation, nutritional status and survival in patients with cancer. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2009 May;12(3):223-6.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19318937

    16. Mikirova N, et al. Effect of high-dose intravenous vitamin C on inflammation in cancer patients. J Transl Med. 2012; 10:189.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3480897/

    17. Monti DA, et al. Phase I Evaluation of Intravenous Ascorbic Acid in Combination with Gemcitabine and Erlotinib in Patients with Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer. PLoS One. 2012; 7(1): e29794.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22272248

    18. Vollbracht C, et al. Intravenous vitamin C administration improves quality of life in breast cancer patients during chemo-/radiotherapy and aftercare: results of a retrospective, multicentre, epidemiological cohort study in Germany. In Vivo. 2011 Nov-Dec;25(6):983-90.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22021693

    19. Grosso G, et al. Effects of Vitamin C on health: a review of evidence. Front Biosci. 2013 Jun 1;18:1017-29.
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    20. Laviano A, et al. Omega-3 fatty acids in cancer. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2013 Mar;16(2):156-61.
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