Thursday, May 31, 2018


There is a lot of information that is being circulated in social media about natural cures for cancer. They passionately talk about the doctors and scientists hiding lifesaving nature cures from patients in cahoots with the big bad Pharma industry to promote allopathic drugs.
The self-styled experts claim that everything from lemon juice to baking soda, to vitamin B17 to green juice can cure cancer. Despite the fact that there are no scientific data to substantiate these claims, even educated and intelligent young people buy into and promote cancer misinformation. The idea of nature cure from baking soda to soursop is being sold with such conviction quoting the so-called researchers and catchy headlines that scream “It's Time for The Truth to be Told About Breast Cancer...”
While there are plenty of ‘miracle cures’ out there, the fact is that there’s very little evidence that any of them actually work. Attractively made videos and websites are not scientific evidence and effectiveness of any cancer treatment. They seduce cancer patients into abandoning their best shot at survival in favour of these unproven remedies. When it comes to cancer, thinking that food and natural measures are a good alternative to “pharma and allopathic medical greed” can be a deadly choice.
Some of these miracle cure specialists see about 100 to 150 cancer patients a day spending barely few minutes with each patient. They also treat all types of cancers from head to foot. It amazes me that someone who asks me a lot of questions would submit themselves without any doubts to the miracle makers. I also wonder how the miracle makers master various aspects of cancer biology and pathology that are heterogeneous not only in different organ systems but also within the same organ. Like breast cancer is not one disease. All breast cancers cannot be treated alike.
We only hear of success stories and not the failures. The so called success stories of cure by natural remedies may have confounding factors about the medical diagnosis, the stage, aggressiveness of the disease etc. Often it turns out that people have had conventional cancer treatments like surgery and yet this may not be mentioned. Many low-grade tumours have an indolent course and may do well anyway. They end up attributing the survival to alternative treatments.
As a breast cancer surgeon, I must express my concern and outrage here.
It is tempting to turn to Dr. Google when faced with the diagnosis of breast cancer. There are millions of pages out there with all sorts of information. During the stressful and distressing time of dealing with the diagnosis, the misinformation that comes through these portals are dangerous, gives them false hope and puts people at risk of losing time, money and the advantage of appropriate treatment at the right time.
Allopathy is not perfect. But right now, it comes with the best evidence that we have. Researchers are constantly working on improving the treatment modalities. Discuss the side effects and benefits clearly with your doctor, understand the risk versus benefits of conventional breast cancer treatment and complement recovery process with holistic health.
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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Will my cancer spread after a breast biopsy?

A common patient concern is that biopsies may cause cancer to spread. Many patients ask me if removal of the lump straight away is better.

My answer to the question starts off with an example. If you get transferred  from Chennai to Delhi , would you prefer to land up in Delhi Railway station with family , bags and baggage straight away or would you like to visit the place a couple of times, find out about possible housing, schools and other facilities and then plan to shift the family ?

chennai breast cancer centre

Likewise, before removing the lump we need a diagnosis followed by a clear plan based on the diagnosis and further information. A biopsy removes a bit of tissue by using a specially designed core needle from the suspicious area of the breast. The tissue is then fixed and studied under a microscope to see if cancer is present. This is done with a local anaesthetic.

If it is benign lump, then surgery may not be required at all. Therefore unnecessary surgery and scar on the breast can be avoided.

If the breast lump is cancerous, then it is staged and tested for hormone receptor sensitivity and Her 2 status. We then assess the possibility of preserving the breast and axillary lymph nodes. Surgical plan including breast conservation, sentinel lymph node biopsy and reconstruction are possibilities that can be discussed and decided upfront with best possible results. Repeat surgeries are avoided with good planning and information for further treatment planning is complete and adequate without any undue time delay.

breast cancer biopsy

Does the needle biopsy cause the cancer to spread?

No. this is a myth and studies have shown that needle track seedling or displacement of cancer cells do not increase the risk of recurrence or spread. The chance that surgery or biopsy will cause cancer to spread to other parts of the body is extremely low. Doctors use special methods and take many steps to prevent cancer cells from spreading during biopsies or surgery to remove cancer.

Breast Biopsy is an incredibly important step in the diagnosis for the patient, as having a definitive cancer diagnosis is important in determining and planning the correct treatment for the patient. The potential gain from a breast biopsy outweighs the risks such as discomfort and bruising.

Can a needle biopsy miss a cancer?

A needle biopsy can sometimes miss breast cancer if the needle takes a sample of tissue or cells from the wrong area. Ultrasound or stereotactic guidance is immensely useful to target the correct area. The sample should be fixed immediately in buffered formalin. A delay in fixing or improper fixing can cause diagnostic difficulties.

Sometimes false negative results can occur due to errors in interpretation. If there is a cause for concern about the possibility of a false negative result ( ie ) if the lesion is suspicious on clinical examination and imaging studies , then a repeat biopsy or surgical excision should be carried out.

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