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Inflammatory breast cancer

Breast cancer is cancer of breast tissue. Worldwide,it is the most common form of cancer in females, affecting approximately 10% of all women at some stage of their life in the Western world. Although significant efforts are made to achieve early detection and effective treatment, about 20% of all women with breast cancer will die from the disease, and it is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in women. more...

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The risk of getting breast cancer increases with age. For a woman who lives to the age of 90 the chances of getting breast cancer her entire lifetime is about 12.5% or 1 in 8. Men can also develop breast cancer, but their risk is less than 1 in 1000 (see sex and illness). This risk is modified by many different factors. In a very small (~ 5%) proportion of breast cancer cases, there is a strong inherited familial risk. Some racial groups have a higher risk of developing breast cancer - notably, women of European and African descent have been noted to have a higher rate of breast cancer than women of Asian origin. (figures from However, these apparent racial differences diminish when geography is altered, as Asian women migrating to the western world, gradually acquire risk approaching that of western women.

The probability of breast cancer rises with age but breast cancer tends to be more aggressive when it occurs in younger women. One type of breast cancer that is especially aggressive and disproportionately occurs in younger women is inflammatory breast cancer. It is initially staged as Stage IIIb or Stage IV. It also is unique because it often does not present with a lump so that it often is not detected by mammography or ultrasound. It presents with the signs and symptoms of a breast infection like mastitis.


Two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, have been linked to the rare familial form of breast cancer. Women in families expressing mutations in these genes have a much higher risk of developing breast cancer than women who do not. Not all people who inherit mutations in these genes will develop breast cancer. Together with Li-Fraumeni syndrome (p53 mutations), these genetic aberrations determine around 5% of all breast cancer cases, suggesting that the remainder is sporadic. Genetic counseling and genetic testing should be considered for families who may carry a hereditary form of cancer.


Alcohol is another risk factor for the development of breast cancer. Women who drink half a glass of wine every day have 6% increased risk of developing breast cancer where as women who drink two drinks or more daily may have 37% increased chance of developing breast cancer. 1


The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France invited 21 scientist from 8 countries in June 2005, to evaluate the risk of cancer for humans of combined estrogen-progestogen contraceptives and combined estrogen-progestogen menopausal therapy. The working group found that there is a small increase in the relative risk of breast cancer in current and recent users of combined oral contraceptives.


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Impact of complementary mistletoe extract treatment on quality of life in breast, ovarian and non-small cell lung cancer patients. A prospective randomized
From Alternative Medicine Review, 6/1/04

Piao BK, Wang YX, Xie GR, et al. Anticancer Res 2004;24:303-309.

Standardized aqueous mistletoe extracts have been applied to cancer patients for several decades as complementary medicine. A multicentric, randomized, open, prospective clinical trial was conducted in three oncological centers in the People's Republic of China in Bejing, Shenyang and Tianjin. Following the guidelines of "Good Clinical Practice" (GCP) this study was performed to get information on efficacy safety and side-effects of the standardized mistletoe extract (sME). Two hundred and thirty-three patients with breast (n=68), ovarian (n=71) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC; n=94) were enrolled into this study. Two hundred and twenty-four patients fulfilled the requirements for final analysis (n= 115 treated with sME HELIXOR A: n=109 comprising the control group being treated with the approved immunomodulating phytopharmacon Lentinan). All patients were provided with standard tumor-destructive treatment schedules and complementarily treated with sME or Lentinan during chemotherapy according to treatment protocol. Biometrically, the patients of the control and sME treatment group were comparable regarding distribution, clinical classification (WHO) and treatment protocols. Analysis was performed according to the "Intention to treat principle". Quality of life (QoL) was significantly (p<0.05) improved for patients who were complementarily treated with sME, as determined by the questionnaires FLIC (Functional Living Index-Cancer), TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine Index) and the KPI (Karnofsky Performance Index) in comparison to the control group. Additionally, the occurrence of adverse events (AEs) was less frequent in the sME than in the control group (total number of AEs 52 versus 90 and number of serious AEs 5 versus 10 in study and control group, most of them due to chemotherapy). Only one serious AE was allocated to complementary treatment in each group (1 angioedema in sME group). All other side-effects of the sME (7 harmless local inflammatory reactions at subcutaneous injection site, 4 cases with fever) were self-limiting and did not demand therapeutic intervention. This study showed that complementary treatment with sME can beneficially reduce the side-effects of chemotherapy in cancer patients and thus improve quality of life.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Thorne Research Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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