Successfully Treating Breast Cancer
We use bone marrow transplants and peripheral blood stem cell transplants to treat solid cancers as well as bone marrow disorders. Whilst some solid cancers can be treatment succesfully using conventional or alternative cancer treatment methods, others are more aggressive and more likely to recur. In these cases, bone marrow transplant offers the cancer patient much higher chances of success. Finding out that you or a loved one has cancer is confusing. As well as the emotional adjustment there is lots of information that you will need to take on board and decisions to be made about your treatment approach. This is why at Hospital Angeles Lomas we offer a free, zero obligation consultation service so that you can find out as much as possible about how a stem cell transplant could help you, enabling you to make the best decision.
Breast cancer is a term used to describe a range of diseases that can affect women and, occasionally, men. When the cell division in the breast is uncontrolled, the extra cells produced can form a solid mass, or tumor, which can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Malignant tumors have the potential to affect the tissues and organs surrounding the breast, and spread within the body. Whilst cancerous tumors can be removed, they can grow back. It is estimated that, in 2012, 229,000 Americans will be diagnosed with breast cancer and a further 40,000 will die as a result of the disease.
The most common symptom of breast cancer is finding a lump in the breast or armpit. However, if you do have a lump it may not be breast cancer, only 10% of lumps are cancerous. Other symptoms include:
- Discharge from the nipple
- Nipple pain
- Inverted nipple
- Unusual breast pain or tenderness
- Unusual skin rash around the nipple that won’t respond to creams
- Sudden increase in breast size
- Itchy skin of the breast
Diagnosis and Treatment
Usually diagnosis is made by taking an image of both breasts to look at the size and density of any mass within the breast. A biopsy will confirm whether the tumor is benign or malignant and blood tests will be used to determine any genetic mutations that may affect the course and aggressiveness of the disease. Once the stage and nature of the disease is determined, a suitable course of treatment will be devised for the patient.
Most breast cancer patients have chemotherapy and radiation treatment to destroy the tumor. However, alternative cancer treatment programs, which do not involve such aggressive treatment, are being used with increasing success. Whilst traditional treatment methods appear effective in reducing the size of the tumor, it is always possible that the tumor will grow back as the chemotherapy is unlikely to destroy all of the cancer cells.
The use of treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy damages healthy cells as well as the cancerous cells. This makes a breast cancer survivor more likely to develop a bone marrow cancer, such as leukemia, in later life.
Breast Cancer and BMT
Bone Marrow Transplant for Breast Cancer involves extracting stem cells from the patient and storing them. The stem cells are usually hematopoietic stem cells, which have been taken from the patient’s peripheral blood, in a procedure similar to a blood transfusion, although sometimes doctors use bone marrow stem cells. The patient will then have high intensity chemotherapy which will cause all of the cancerous cells to die. In conventional treatment such high doses of chemotherapy would not be possible as the treatment will kill all of the healthy bone marrow cells along with the unhealthy ones. However, following the ablation (killing) of all cells, the patient’s own stored stem cells are transfused back into their blood stream, allowing them to produce healthy, mutation-free bone marrow.
The use of autologous (the patient’s own) stem cells means that the risks of the transplant are minimal as the transplanted cells will be recognized by the patient’s body and not rejected.
Autologous Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplants have been shown to be successful means of treating breast cancer, although it is not always available to patients, due to costs, facilities and the level of expertise required to perform the procedure.
Making a Decision
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with breast cancer this will be a very difficult, emotional and confusing time for you, as you are presented with statistics, facts and possible outcomes. It is important that you ask as many questions as you want, and that you look at every treatment opportunity available to you, both within your own hospital and in other hospitals so that you can choose the very best treatment in the best hospital for you.
If you would like a free consultation please contact us and we’ll make sure the right person gets back to you.