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Dec 31, 2013 10:52PM
I did a little research. It's important for people to know what chemo and rads are. Both are generally (not always but generally) given as prophylactic measures. So lets take a basic case:
1) Biopsy shows cancer. Whether there are lymph nodes involved is unknown. Size of biopsied tumor is about 3 cm.
2) Surgery is done, 3 cm tumor is removed, some lymph node involvement is found & these lymph nodes are removed, it is also believed based on the position of the tumor that their may be spread to the chest wall.
This is the position that JMW was in - she had surgery; the known cancer was removed. This is actually the position that most people are in following surgery - be it a lumpectomy, a mastectomy, a bilateral mastectomy , a SNB, an AND, etc. That is, most of the time the surgeons go in and excise all of the cancer that can be found (sometimes you have an inoperable cancer & that's not possible, but this is the general course of events). Basically at this point, unless scans show evidence of cancer, the patient is considered cancer free.
The question is - Why have chemo, or rads, or hormone therapy? After all, they just got rid of all of the known cancer in your body. So what do the doctors consider before recommending chemo, rads, etc. Well they think about the probability that some cancer cells traveled via the lymphatic system out to other locations in your body & are out there waiting to divide & turn into tumors in your bones or liver or brain. If cancer cells were found in your lymph nodes, then they figure that this probability is relatively higher.
Then they consider that the cells can also invade tissue locally - like into the chest wall or around those lymph nodes - or that there might be some cells around that primary tumor site that they didn't get.
So they figure a 'risk' - because they don't want to give chemo if it's unlikely that it's necessary to do so, or rads. (that why many people who have BC don't have chemo or rads).
The risk isn't 100% (generally - unless the KNOW there are cancer cells there & even then some small amount of cells of any kind can die out on their own). The risk in this instance isn't zero by any means. In a case like this you might say the risk is 90% that there ARE cancer cells either locally or distally and without treatment the risk of death from breast cancer over a 10 period is 85% with no further treatment.
Now if this person has treatment and survives, we can't say for sure that the chemo or the rads cured her because 15% of the time she would have lived anyway.
We also can't say that if this person ate a vegan diet, juiced, and took supplements, that those things cured her, because there's a 15% chance she would have survived anyway.
What we CAN say is this:
IF 100 women in this situation have chemo and rads then out of those 100 women, the odds say that 50 (instead of 15) will survive at least 10 years.
We can NOT say that about a vegan diet or any other alternative treatments.
It would actually be easy and cheap to do a comparison study - just take the first 100 women with diagnosis who use a specific alternative treatment and follow them for 10 years & see how many die (of BC) each year of a 10 year period, follow the first 100 women at any major hospital during the same period who use conventional treatment.
Why if alternative practitioners believe that their methods work, don't they do this? Many of them have more than enough money to fund such a study.
This JMW seems like a nice woman & thank goodness that this disease didn't kill her - but it's highly unlikely that it's anything she did - she just happened to be one of the lucky ones who's cancer was completely excised.
5/2012, IDC, 6cm+, Stage IIIA, 5/14 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
8/31/2012 Lymph node removal: Right, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Right; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement