Sunday, November 29, 2020

Breast Cancer (Oriental Medicine View)


General Information

The cancer women in their 30s should be careful Like other types of cancers, what causes breast cancer has not been specifically identified yet. However, the cancer may reportedly be closely related to these two factors: dietary pattern and obesity. Followings are some evidences that support above hypothesis: it mainly occurs in the west; obese women have been the target; it has sharply increased for recent 10 years. Other than these, a theory is, to considerable extent, gaining the ground: female hormone may cause the disease.

But problem here is that 70% of women patients doesn’t seem to show above trends; only 30% of them does.

– The cancer that can be self-detected in its early stage

The most noticeable point for breast cancer is that it is located on the skin, which can be detected rather early. In that it can be found earlier than other types of cancers, the cure rate is also high. Other than these, the speed of growth is very slow: 1cm per 7years.

Because some subtle changes usually appear 2 years before lumps are found on x-line of breast, it can perfectly be cured in that stage. Recently, the uses of special process of dyeing or needle has been heightening the early cure rate.

The causes

– The fatter you are, the riskier it becomes.

Fat increases female hormones. When abruptly getting fat especially during the menopause, it can easily become breast cancer.

– Increase of estrogen

Estrogen is ranked fairly high among the factors that cause the cancer. People who’ve undergone premature menarche or late menopause seem to show this tendency: if the starting year of premature menarche gets later by one year, the probability is lessened by 20%; if the year of menopause is under 45, the rate is 30% less than who is not.

– Contraceptives

Although it has not been proved scientifically that contraceptives can be a cause of breast cancer, women under 25 or those too many took them may show high probability of getting breast cancer.

– Animal fats

When calorie intake from fat is over 40% in the whole calorie intake, it can be classified as excessive intake. Breast cancer shows high attack rate when the dietary pattern becomes westernized: lots of meat and fat intake.

– Uncontrollable dietary pattern

The attack rate of breast cancer can be heightened due to the heavy intake of coffee, alcohol and cigarettes.

– Genetic factor

Like many western countries where the attack rate of breast cancer is rather high, it’s hard to tell whether its origin is genetic or acquired. No on can sure, if one gets it when her sister becomes ill from it. Genetic breast cancer has some conditions like there are more than 3 breast cancer patients in one’s paternal side or maternal side; even in this condition, the patients should be one’s sister(s) or in a direct line.

The symptoms

Breast cancer can be more easily detected than other cancer with the self-diagnosing. Therefore, it’s highly recommended to have the self-test more than a time per month. Someday when some lumps or any types of transformation are detected on the body, one must be checked for the cancer is already progressed.

– This should be differentiated with the breast diseases

There are three main breast diseases: fibroadenoma, fibrocystic disease and breast cancer. These share some similar symptoms, so it is crucial to discern the differences.

The types and size of lumps differ with ages: from late 10s to early 20s, fibroadenoma predominates; fibrocystic disease is most common between late 20s to menopause; breast cancer, between 35 to 49.

While the lump of cancer is hard and bumpy, fibroadenoma, often called benign tumor, is as big as the tip of the big finger and is usually found grouped; its surface and boundary are smooth and clear. Although this is not closely related to cancer, it is desired to remove it when it occurs over the age of 40.

The most confusing disease with cancer is fibrocystic disease. It comes out 10 days before the menstruation and goes with its end.

– Lump without pain, the main symptom of breast cancer

The most frequent symptom found in the early stage of breast cancer is the lump that gives no pain. When its boundary is not clear and the surface is hard, that is the cancer cell.

The second frequent symptom is secretion from tits. Paraeccrisis, a kind of secretion, oozes without regard to the pregnancy; when it is bloody, it is mostly abnormal.

However, bleeding is not entirely a symptom of cancer; when lump can be felt and bleeding can be seen on the one side of tits, it is highly likely that the cancer becomes aggravated.

– Depressed nipple

When nipple gets depressed, it can be diagnosed as the cancer. However, because this symptom can also be found in other disease, it is safe to check the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ of the existence of lumps. If one side of nipple has been depressed for a certain period of time, one should take the check-up.

The cures

The operational cure for the breast cancer is, in most cases, surgical excision. However, before this kind of operation is made, diagnosis should be taken. When it is in the mere early stage, 5-year survival rate is over 95%; in its 1st stage when the diameter of lump is under 2cm and the cancer cell does not spread to lymph node, the rate is 80%.

– Ultrasonic wave, efficient for the women between 20 to 30s

The most well known test for the breast cancer is x-ray. However, it proved to be more helpful for the women over 40. For the women between 20 to 30s or those pregnant, ultrasonic wave is more efficient.

– Excision operation that saves breast

Excision has been the most common way of operation in breast cancer. In the past, radical mastectomy that removes breast, chest muscle and lymph node, or the modified radical mastectomy that only removes breast were widespread. However recently, when it is in rather early stage, the operation does not remove breast or muscle; only the cancer cells and its around area get removed so that the shape of breast remains the same. But this operation can be made when the number of tumor is only one and located over 1 to 2cm from tit.

– Antihormone treatment for the seniors

Even when the diameter of cancer cell is over 2cm and transmission to lymph node is already made, breast excision is effective when accompanied with chemotherapy, radiotherapy and antihormone treatment. Antihormone treatment is especially helpful based on the fact that breast cancer depends highly on estrogen. For the seniors who show little possibility of recurrence, tamoxifen treatment is widely applied.

Breast cancer, unlike other types of cancer, show up to 85% of perfect cure rate; even in its third stage and the cancer cell is bigger than 5cm, chemotherapy can lessen the size and antihormone treatment and radiotherapy can heighten the cure rate.


– Self-diagnosis

Breast cancer can be detected more easily than other types of cancer with self-diagnosis; a report said that up to 75% of cases can be self-detected when the diameter of cancer cell is over 1cm.

– Stay in good shape

Female hormone increases when the fat gets amassed. Among the hormones, estrogen is known as the major factor that can cause breast cancer. When over 30, one should be careful that her weight should not fluctuate by over 5kg. One hour of physical excercise a day can reportedly lessen more than 20% of the risk of getting cancer.

– Low calories, low fat food intake

It is said that 35% of breast cancer is from bad dietary pattern. Among other factors, fat is the worst factor. Alcohol should be avoided; foods that contain vitamin A and β-carotene are highly recommended.


Question: Are women of big breast showing more probability of getting breast cancer?

Answer: It is the one of the most widely known misconceptions. Maybe the notion stemmed from the fact that the women of big breast are usually fat. In brief, big breast is not a direct factor that can cause the cancer; fatness is.

Question: What if it gets during pregnancy?

Answer: Although the rate during the pregnancy is fairly low(2 to 3%), when it gets in, the cure rate is also low. During pregnancy, blood concentration of estrogen becomes higher, which activates the cancer cell and weakens immunity thereby causing big tumor. Therefore, if detected during pregnancy, one should keep the presence of mind for the most frustrating possibility of abortion due to radiotherapy or chemotherapy. The term for another pregnancy is more than two years.

Question: How about the pregnancy after the operations?

Answer: Unmarried women who have had the experiences of anticancer or hormone treatment may fear for the pregnancy and delivery. However, series of current report say that they have no correlation at all.

Question: What is the difference between malignant and benign tumor?

Answer: Tumor, the mutated form of cells, is divided along the two: malignant and benign one. The latter can not be classified as cancer; it can easily be removed and doesn\’t infiltrate or spread to other organs; it can\’t be life-threatening and has the growing limit. The very name of cancer means the former: malignant tumor.

The harms it can do are the opposite of the other: benign tumor.

Question: Why the 5-year survival rate is so important?

Answer: For the cancer patients, 5 year after the operation means a lot. Literally, it means recurrence has not been made during that time, which can be interpreted that the patients is perfectly cured. The recurring period of cancer cell after operation is usually 5 years.

Wang Wei
Wang Wei is a holistic health practitioner in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

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