Our Feel-Good War on Breast Cancer — For more on this New
York Times piece; click: feelgood
In “Pink Ribbon Blues,” Gayle Sulik, a sociologist and founder of the Breast Cancer Consortium, credits Komen
(as well as the American Cancer Society and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month) with raising the profile of
the disease, encouraging women to speak about their experience and transforming “victims” into “survivors.” Komen,
she said, has also distributed more than $1 billion to research and support programs. At the same time, the function
of pink-ribbon culture — and Komen in particular — has become less about eradication of breast cancer than self-perpetuation:
maintaining the visibility of the disease and keeping the funds rolling in. “You have to look at the agenda for
each program involved,” Sulik said. “If the goal is eradication of breast cancer, how close are we to that? Not
very close at all. If the agenda is awareness, what is it making us aware of? That breast cancer exists?
***For Women with Breast Cancer, It's Buyer Beware*** — For more on this Newsweek piece, click: outcome
Your editor/publisher shares a personal e-mail she sent to friends:
I put one of my breasts on the block (total mastectomy) on September 30, 2005. (Luckily, the surgery went, "as
well as could be expected." The margins — the area around the cancers — were cancer cell-free, according to
the surgeon. Convalescing is slow but sure. I'm entertaining myself with thoughts of embellishing the void. Perhaps
I'll finally sport a tattoo. All options are open!)
The primary reason for this e-mail is to pass on something "sweet" (cryoablation or
cryosurgery) discovered during a sour experience, but first, a short digression:
A friend recently insisted that I read "A Cancer Memoir" by Marjorie Williams that appeared in the October
issue of Vanity Fair. "You won't believe the dumb things people say when they learn a friend has cancer,"
Reading Williams' memoir, I felt more fortunate than she in my choice of friends and acquaintances, not to mention,
recent interlopers in my life. For the most part, they spared me most of the collection of inappropriate comments
she outlined in her article. However, I, too, shared her rage when someone tried to cheer me up by reciting a happy
tale like the one she related: ". . . a sister-in-law's cousin had liver cancer but now he's 80 and hasn't
been troubled by it in 40 years."
Williams' memoir made me feel more fortunate in yet another way. No time is good to be diagnosed with cancer, but
surely, "later" is better. I'm grateful my kids are grown and that I've lived a lot of life.
This past August, I met with Dr. Helena Chang, the director of the Revlon/UCLA Breast Center
in hopes of becoming a candidate for cryoablation or cryosurgery. I wasn't, but one of your friends may be.
Here's what you need to know about cryoablation (excerpted in part from "Breast Cancer's Cold War" —
Los Angeles Times — 5/7/04)
1 - Cryoablation doesn't require a large incision and can be performed in a doctor's office in less than an hour
using only local anesthetic.
Helped by ultrasound images, the physician guides a thin, needle-like probe through a small puncture in the breast
until it penetrates the center of the tumor.
[Currently, to qualify for this procedure, a tumor must be small — from 1 to 1.5 centimeters. And it must reside
"within" the breast. I know from experience! Marya]
Cold argon gas is pumped through the probe, causing an ice ball to form around the tumor. The ice is allowed
to thaw, and the freeze-thaw cycle is repeated. Within a few weeks, the dead tissue is absorbed by the body's immune
(Compare the above to the current standard treatment for women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer: Tumors
are removed by lumpectomy, a surgical procedure requiring general anesthesia. Often, it leaves a cavity in the
"This method is potentially much better than current treatments. It's less expensive, virtually pain free,
doesn't have the possible complications of surgery, and it gives an excellent cosmetic result because the breast
maintains its normal shape." Dr. Michael S. Sabel, surgical oncologist - University of Michigan Comprehensive
Cancer Center in Ann Arbor.
Cryoablation may even provide an added benefit. In mopping up the tumor, the immune system's white blood cells
are exposed to special proteins on the surface of the cancer cells. Scientists speculate that this might "train"
the immune system to recognize the cancer cells as foreign invaders. This could provoke an immune response in which
white blood cells destroy tumor cells should they recur or spread to other parts of the body.
"In studies on mice, freezing tumors increase the body's immune response to cancer, but we don't know yet
if the same process occurs in humans." Dr. Michael S. Sabel
Pilot study: Four weeks after cryoablation, 27 women with early-stage cancers returned to have their tumors
removed by lumpectomy and examined under a microscope to determine whether any live cancer cells were left. Researchers
found that the procedure destroyed all cancers less than 1 centimeter in diameter. It was also effective in women
with tumors up to 1.5 centimeters who suffered from a type of cancer known as invasive ductal carcinoma.
[Yet another incentive to get a yearly mammogram --- discover cancers when they're small. Marya]
1 - Cryoablation or cryosurgery is a "known technique" — used as an alternative to conventional surgery
for some types of cancer and precancerous conditions. It's used to treat early stage-stage prostate, liver and
skin cancers, cancers that have spread to the liver, precancerous skin growths (actinic keratosis) and abnormal
lesions in the cervix.
2 - Cryoablation for breasts is currently termed, "experimental" which means that your insurance company
[But when you think about minimizing down time, trauma, pain, disfigurement . . . Marya]
Be well — Marya
Marya Charles Alexander, Editor and Publisher — SoloDining.com and SoloTravelPortal.com
Response — 4/1/11— to above:
I saw your article on cryoablation for breast cancer and would like to add a few comments:
Cryoablation (freezing tumors to death) for cancer has been successfully used in the US for over 20 years. Most
of these applications have focused on other areas of the body (prostrate, liver, kidney, etc).
Cryoablation has been used to treat benign breast tumors (fibroadenomas) for over 10 years now. Thousands of cases
have been performed with no reported incidence of regrowth.
Cryoablation produces no dimpling and a minimal 3mm (about 1/8”) scar which generally fades completely within 3-4
months. Because no tissue is removed from the breast, no dimpling occurs.
Cryoablation for fibroadenomas carries the CPT code of 19105 and is covered by most insurers.
Sanarus Technologies, LLC, produces the liquid nitrogen-based Visica 2TM Cryoablation Treatment System which was
chosen by the National Cancer Institute as exclusive medical device for the Z1072 Breast Cancer Clinical Trial
(Phase 2). The trial is about 50% completed and is producing excellent results to date.
More information is available at www.sanarus.com.
BJ Hardman -
CEO & Chief Coach
Sanarus Technologies, LLC
7068 Koll Center Parkway, Suite 425
Pleasanton, CA 94566
Mobile: 650-941-6554 0: 925-460-5717
Our Feel-Good War on Breast Cancer — New York Times — 4/25/13
Are you troubled by the controversy over mammogram screening?
Are you troubled by the fact that though Komen trademarked the phrase “for the cure,”
only 16 percent of the $472 million raised in 2011, the most recent year for which financial reports are available,
went toward research.
I strongly encourage all women to read this article (and the comments following it.).
Here's a link: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/28/magazine/our-feel-good-war-on-breast-cancer.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
New study underlines how much difference in outcome a good surgeon makes. Good luck finding
one. Newsweek — 1/3/11
Here's a link: http://www.newsweek.com/2011/01/03/getting-info-on-breast-cancer-surgeons-isn-t-easy.html#
Here's how the surgeon who did my mastectomy responded to the piece:
"The issue is complex. As you know, the choice of surgeon is important. But there is not such thing
as simple data. Even the question of whether patients receive radiation after their operation is difficult. How
do they account for a 52 year old patient’s choice not to have radiation? Or the choice of an 89 year old patient
not to have radiation because there is no benefit in survival in that age group. These are just a few of the issues
that make collecting the data they reference in the article so complex.
No easy answers!"
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