Specialising in Woman's Health
What is Breast Cancer?
The human body consists of trillions of cells; they are the structural units of all living things. Our cells are constantly dividing and replacing themselves in a precisely regulated fashion. Cancer cells, however, divide in an uncoordinated manner and accumulate in certain regions of the body. Breast cancer is a disease characterised by uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in breast tissue. No one knows exactly why a normal breast cell becomes a cancerous one, and there is probably no single cause.
How does breast cancer develop?
It is possible that breast cancers emerge due to a combination of inflammation, genetics, carcinogens, immune responses, hormones, and tissue composition, but above all, the wrong nutrition. There is sufficient evidence suggesting that it is not our genes that preposition us to disease, but actually the food that we choose to eat.
The breasts are composed of lobes, lobules, ducts, glands, and a high concentration of blood vessels and fat cells. Many of these tissues in the breast have receptors for the hormone oestrogen, which make them a target for the hormone’s influence. Fat cells, in particular, both produce and metabolize oestrogen. Oestrogen is then metabolised or broken down into carcinogenic by-products, which can effect the DNA of nearby cells and cause their mutation into cancers. Research has shown that some women’s breasts are more susceptible than others to the effects of oestrogen and its by-products.
It takes 8 to 10 years for the average tumour to grow to be one centimetre in size, and only 1.5 years for it to grow to be 3.5 centimetres.
Once a normal cell begins to mutate (pre-cancerous tissue), its DNA is altered so that these cells can multiply in an uncoordinated fashion. The extensive vascular beds in the breast tissue provide an optimum condition for this to occur. In order to sustain rapid growth of these pre-cancerous (and cancerous) cells, chemicals are released into the surrounding area which keep existing blood vessels open, awaken dormant ones, and create new ones (angio-genesis).
Currently 90-95% of breast cancers occur in women with no family history of the disease (1).
How we can detect breast cancer early?
Over 90% of women diagnosed with stage 1 cancer are alive 5 years later (1). Unfortunately only 58% of breast cancers are diagnosed at this stage (1). Digital Infrared Imaging has the ability to detect the chemical and blood vessel changes in pre-cancerous as well as cancerous breast tissue. Consequently, Infrared Imaginig can be the first indicator that a cancer may be forming or is present; and in many cases 8-10 years before it can be detected by any other method.
Although there is no one screening technique that is solely adequate for detecting breast cancer, Breast Thermography is clearly a frontline test for early detection.
1997-2005 Index Medicus ACS, NEJM, JNCI, Lancet, BMJ, J Breast