- Teeth seem hard, but as toothpaste ads like to remind us, they are vulnerable to attack. Researchers recently reported that while the majority of adults’ teeth show signs of enamel loss, acidic sugary drinks like soda and fruit juice make the situation worse. People under treatment for breast cancer need to be especially careful with their teeth because both chemotherapy and bone-strengthening drugs called bisphosphonates can lead to dental problems.
Chemotherapy. Before starting chemotherapy, see your dentist to have your teeth cleaned and discuss whether you should use a fluoride rinse during treatment as many dentists recommend.
- Researchers found that healthy volunteers who were given fish oil or fatty fish like salmon and mackerel showed a significant increase in their blood levels of a fatty acid that has been associated with resistance to chemotherapy in earlier studies. The study at the University Center Utrecht concluded that patients on chemotherapy should avoid fish oil at least a day before and after their chemo treatments
This was a small study, but it points out an issue that many cancer patients need to understand. Supplements or herbs that may be fine for healthy people may not be appropriate while in cancer treatment.
Women are often confused by two types of hormone therapy they might encounter. The two have radically different goals – and one can be dangerous to your health, especially if you’re a breast cancer survivor.
If you’re a breast cancer newbie (or have never been through treatment), your only experience with hormones may be way back in puberty, when the wild swings of newly active female hormones made you crazy. Or perhaps you’ve been through menopause, suffered through the decline of those same hormone levels – and were prescribed a continuing course of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) by your general practitioner.
- Yoga. Acupuncture. Meditation. If you’ve been treated for breast cancer, you’ve probably heard words like these mentioned. Maybe your local hospital offers therapeutic massage to chemo patients, or Reiki treatments to women heading into surgery. All of these terms come under a single heading:Now, you may already be skeptically shaking your head, thinking, “No way am I going to send away to Ecuador for some kind of weird herbs, or let some strange person wave their hands over me. Give me the surgery, chemo, and radiation; I’m sticking to straight science.”
But hold on: there’s a strong line drawn between alternative therapies and complementary therapies.
- The National Institutes of Health celebrated its first annual Yoga Week. A five-day series of events in Bethesda, Maryland, attracted participants who took part in yoga classes, heard expert speakers, and were invited to attend a dinner. Part of the celebration included information on a $2.4 million grant recently awarded for the study of yoga and its effect on breast cancer patients.
So what is yoga, and how it might help YOU? Read these FAQS to find out.
Q. My girlfriend says she heard that yoga might help me feel better as I go through chemo.
You arrive home from the doctor’s office overwhelmed with the news that you have breast cancer. The surgeon’s nurse has set up more tests and said she will call tomorrow with an appointment for you to meet with an oncologist.
Clicking on the television, you see a woman talking about how wonderful her cancer hospital is. She stands with her husband in front of a large building saying it is worth traveling any distance to find a hospital that offers hope and options. You start wondering if you should just take your surgeon’s recommendation for an oncologist or if you should check out the hospital in the advertisement.
Breast cancer is treated in several ways. It depends on the kind of breast cancer and how far it has spread. People with breast cancer often get more than one kind of treatment.
- Surgery. An operation where doctors cut out cancer tissue.
- Chemotherapy. Using special medicines to shrink or kill the cancer cells. The drugs can be pills you take or medicines given in your veins, or sometimes both.
- Hormonal therapy. Blocks cancer cells from getting the hormones they need to grow.
- Biological therapy.