What I Learned About Testing for Breast Cancer
Biopsies, Mammograms, Scans & Chemo Sensitivity Testing
Biopsies are currently the only way to diagnose that a lump is malignant or benign. Before the procedure, I was given a pamphlet letting me know that I may get a permanent implant, a small piece of metal could be left in me. In the case that they would operate, the surgeon would know where to go to find the tumor. The ultrasound technician and the doctor doing the procedure told me that it would not cause any problems, that I wouldn't set off security alarms at the airport or anything like that.
I wanted to look up more information online but could not get phone signal right then and there. I was late to my appointment and felt pressured to just let them put in the implant. I almost gave in, but it didn't feel right. I asked for the implant to not be put in. Later that day, I found a discussion thread, where several people said they experienced problems after getting the implant. They had pain, discomfort, some having to remove it and the surgery was much more of an issue to take it out. I’m glad I listened to my gut on this. I’ve since been practicing this to strengthen my intuition.
To get a biopsy sample of my breast tumor, they stuck a large needle in me 6 times. I still felt pain two months after. My oncologist said that if it made me feel better, some patients felt pain from the procedure for longer. Looking back, does that make sense to aggravate something I want to get rid of?
After the biopsy, my tumor began to grow quickly. I could feel the change day to day. My tumor went from the size of a small egg to double that in about 5 months. Before that, it had been growing slowly until I got a biopsy done. Needle biopsies can leave a trail of cancer cells as the needle is pulled out and this has happened with me. The shape of my tumor became pointed where the needle was inserted. Knowing what I know now, I would skip the biopsy.
Mammograms have a high rate of false positives and false negatives, and may lead to many unnecessary and invasive biopsies. I would recommend looking into thermography. At the time, I called around to get a thermography done, I was told it did not reveal enough information. Hopefully, the technology will improve by the time you look into it.
PET/CT Scans Radiation exposure comes from pet/ct scans as well as microwaves, airports, cell phones and other wireless devices. If you decide on getting a scan done, ask your doctor some questions like:
Could the test result change my care? If so, how?
Could you recommend an alternative that doesn’t involve radiation, such as an ultrasound or MRI?
If you decide to do a scan, protect yourself: one week before a pet/ct scan, take 1g of curcumin, 3 times a day. This will protect you against the radiation. Curcumin is found in turmeric root and can be consumed as turmeric paste as well. Rosemary extract protects against damage before and after radiation exposure.
Chemo sensitivity testing
I had this type of testing done called RGCC with my integrative doctor so it wasn't covered by my insurance plan and it was very expensive. The RGCC report gave me a list of natural therapies, chemotherapies and their compability in percentages.
I just finished all of six rounds of chemotherapy. There was shrinkage by the 3rd round and after that, the tumor returned to the size prior to doing chemotherapy. Regardless of this, if I were in the same situation now and chose to do chemo, I would get the testing done through my oncologist. Although I can't attest to how accurate the test is (since chemo may have either stabilized the cancer at best or at worst, weakened my immune system without shrinking the tumor) it did ease my high anxiety in choosing a chemo agent. Besides, technological advances are being made and tests are more and more accurate as time goes on.
Here is an article on chemo sensitivity testing: http://weeksmd.com/2012/01/ask-your-oncologist-for-chemosensitivity-testing/