Breast cancer remains the most common cancer in women worldwide and as the World Cancer Research Fund International highlights; this accounts for 12% of new cancer diagnosis each year and represents 25% of all cancers that affect females. It is estimated that worldwide over 508,000 women died in 2011 due to breast cancer (Global Health Estimates, WHO 2013).
Breast Cancer around the world
The breast cancer incidence rates, measured by the number of cases per 100,000 females, are far lower in developing countries than in the west but death rates are astoundingly higher. The incidence rates greatly range from to 89.7/100,000 in Western Europe to 19.3/100,000 in Eastern Africa. According to GLOBOAN (2008), developing countries have incidence rated below 40/100,000 but survival rates are shockingly lower than other parts of the world like Europe, USA and Japan.
North America, Sweden and Japan’s breast cancer survival rates are 80% or higher. This figure drops to 60% in middle-income countries and further falls to 40% in low in-come countries (Coleman et al., 2008). The World Health Organisation points out that this occurs primarily because developing countries do not have proper programmes dedicated to early breast cancer detection resulting in inadequate diagnosis and treatment options for women in these areas of the world.
Treatment and Recommendations
The most effective treatment is linked directly to early detection and it is of the utmost importance that women are educated about preventive measures they can take to ensure that critical steps are taken to ensuring their life-long health.
If a potential risk is detected the first step in the management of possible breast case is based on pathological examination. In addition, appropriate treatment must always take into account evidence-based options and can include one or several types of therapeutic modalities. These include local treatments that treat the tumour directly via surgery or radiation therapy. If it is determined that a systemic treatment option is a more appropriate medical path, this will entail the use of drugs taken orally or via the bloodstream in the form of hormone therapy, targeted therapy or chemotherapy.
According to a recently published article in Time.com, medical professionals have acknowledged key actions that women undergoing breast cancer treatment can practice to improve their treatment outcome. These recommendations include physical activity such as walking three to five times a week not only to benefit the body but also to stimulate the brain. A healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables has been linked to lowering the risk of cancer. This remains equally important throughout treatment. In addition, a 2016 study found that females who had slept 5 or less hours a night were almost 1.5 times more likely to not survive a breast cancer diagnosis compares to those who had obtained between 7 and 8 hours of rest.
Best Doctors and Breast Cancer: Trish’s Story
Trish’s life changed drastically after she noticed a lump on her right breast. After tests revealed it was cancerous, Trish was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, stage 1. Soon after her diagnosis she underwent a partial mastectomy and then began chemotherapy. After undergoing “heavy doses” of chemotherapy every two weeks over a four-month period, followed by 20 sessions of radiation, Trish and her husband were left with questions.
“We wanted to make sure everything that was done to me was what should have been done,” she said. “Was I treated properly? Did I get the right amount of chemotherapy or did I get too much? Should I have done a different surgery instead of the partial mastectomy?”
That’s when Trish reached out to Best Doctors, which she has access to through her employer. She was connected with a Best Doctors physician, a U.S.-based radiation oncologist who performed an intake and reviewed her mammogram, X-rays and pathology report. Best Doctors then quickly gathered her medical records, had her pathology retested and sent her medical records to different specialists.
After a thorough review of her case – that included delving into her family’s health history – the Best Doctors experts agreed with the treatment Trish had received, including both the partial mastectomy and the chemotherapy. Their conclusions brought Trish and her family a sense of relief. She said she truly felt as though she was being listened to and taken care of as a patient.
“The Best Doctors [physician] was really caring and compassionate, and he let me talk,” Trish said. “He answered all our questions. We felt really good.”
Trish added her case was also reviewed by an expert breast medical oncologist and an expert breast surgeon. “[Best Doctors] tapped into all the leading specialists in their field,” she said.
“In their expert opinion they felt like I had an excellent prognosis,” Trish said. “I cried the day I talked to Best Doctors because I never once heard that from any of the people I was treated by here [in Vancouver].” Trish added that the Best Doctors report contained “very specific” answers to all her questions and included “unbelievably detailed explanations.”
“They were very patient and took a lot of time talking to us, making sure we felt really good about everything,” she said.
Trish’s positive experience even prompted her to write an article about employee benefits in which she touched on the value of Best Doctors and the importance of getting a second opinion when it comes to one’s health.
“Best Doctors was fast and efficient. They make you feel important and are really quick to get back to you,” Trish said. “It was all top notch. I have nothing but good things to say about them.”