Breast Cancer Awareness
Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer diagnosed in women, and one in eight American women will develop it in her lifetime. However, if discovered early, there is a 97 percent survival rate.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month — Take control of your health with the latest breast cancer news and prevention tips.
“We have to empower women,” says OB/GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson, whose mother died of breast cancer. “It’s something I believe in very strongly, and that’s why we should spend more than just one month a year dedicating ourselves to trying to eradicate [the disease] and finding a cure. And that’s what we’re here to do today.”
Breast Cancer Prevention Tips
Dr. Funk shares simple steps you can take to reduce your risk of breast cancer.
• Consuming one alcoholic drink a day can decrease your risk of breast cancer by 10 percent. “Keep it to about four to seven drinks a week, and you’ll be heart healthy and not breast adverse,” Dr. Funk says.
• Overweight women have twice the breast cancer incidence, recurrence and death as normal weight women. “Good news,” Dr. Funk says. “Lose the fat, lose your risk.”
• Walking briskly for 11 minutes a day decreases your breast cancer risk by 20 percent.
• More tips to help prevent breast cancer!
Effects of Chemotherapy
After undergoing a routine mammogram in November 2010, Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer. Following a double mastectomy, Amy underwent chemotherapy, which took a massive toll on her body.
“As chemotherapy progressed, I started to gain weight,” she says. “I had no hair. I didn’t feel feminine. I didn’t feel pretty.”
In addition to the weight gain and hair loss, Amy’s skin and complexion started showing irregularities such as wrinkles and brown spots in places she never had before.
“I felt like I was a walking corpse,” she says.
To improve the texture and color of her skin, Amy’s husband, cosmetic laser specialist Dr. Mitchell Chasin, performed a series of laser treatments. “She’ll see improvements in fine lines and wrinkles,” he says. “She’ll see the brown spots that developed all fade away to nothing.
“It really is important for people [in chemotherapy] to take care of themselves, to put makeup on, to go for cosmetic treatments during the process,” Dr. Chasin says. “It’s been shown that a positive outlook absolutely affects the immune status of a person. So someone feeling good about themselves during the process of cancer treatment is a big, big factor [in improving].”
“He really helped bring me around so fast,” Amy says of her husband. “He brought me back to life with all his lasers.”
Amy and Dr. Chasin join The Doctors to explain how the treatments are performed and show off her new look! “I feel really great,” Amy says. “[Dr. Chasin] made me feel like myself again!”
• Hair growth after chemotherapy.
• Breast cancer facial.
Breast Cancer Drugs
Avastin, the world’s best-selling cancer drug, was granted preliminary approval to treat metastatic breast cancer in 2008. But, a recent study found that the drug could cause life-threatening side effects, such as blood clots and holes in the stomach, and may not be as effective as once thought. The Food and Drug Administration is now discussing whether to end the approval of the drug for breast cancer treatment.
“In my opinion, Avastin works very well in stage-four colon and lung cancers,” breast specialist Dr. Kristi Funk says. “[In] breast [cancer], not so much. There was a lot of hope, so they gave it a good try. The trials are out, the data is in [and] it’s not helping women live longer.
“To me, bottom line, Big Pharma needs to keep looking for a better breast cancer drug.” Dr. Funk adds.
The makers of Avastin, Genentech, had the following statement in response to our story:
"Genentech, the maker of Avastin, acknowledges that Avastin may not work for every woman with metastatic breast cancer and, like all cancer medicines, has serious side effects. However, the company believes that women in the United States with HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer should continue to have the ability to choose Avastin as an FDA-approved option if they, and their doctor, believe it’s the right option for them. A study showed Avastin plus paclitaxel chemotherapy increased the time women lived without their metastatic breast cancer getting worse, compared to chemotherapy alone. The trial also showed that more women who received Avastin plus paclitaxel chemotherapy were alive after one year compared to those who received chemotherapy alone (81 percent vs. 74 percent). The safety profile of Avastin in metastatic breast cancer is consistent with previous experience in approved cancer indications, and no new safety signals have been observed."
The FDA commissioner has still not made a final decision on the drug, and Medicare has said they will continue to pay for Avastin.
Leslie, 40 years old and approximately 360 pounds, recently appeared on Dr. Phil with her 14-year-old daughter, Hannah, to resolve their volatile issues about their relationship and Leslie’s weight. Dr. Phil McGraw sends Leslie to The Doctors for a life-saving health intervention.