Breast Cancer Survivor Doctor Barbara Hayden Empowers Women to Take Control of Their Diagnosis.

Breast Cancer is such a hot topic. It seems to touch all of us directly or indirectly as we discover that our friends, family and the rich and famous are diagnosed with this rampant cancer that seems to be increasing in numbers. Dr. Barbara Hayden, a board-certified plastic surgeon and an innovator for Breast Cancer detection, is endorsing technologies that offer non-toxic, efficient screenings for woman like the Sonocine which is an Automated Whole Breast Ultrasound (A.W.B.U.S) and promotes ISET by Rarecells blood test for early detection for Circulating Cancer Cells.

My interview began with my interest in why she chose to go down this path in helping other woman take on this battle. Dr. Hayden informed me of her intense motivation based on her experiences as a breast surgeon, dealing with woman that have had implants and aren’t getting a good screening and finally being a woman that has faced breast cancer herself. Also being the mother of two daughters that will inevitably face screenings as well.

It is recommended that after the age of 25 women should be getting annual mammograms especially if they are genetically prone like her daughters. Which might not seem like a big deal, but Dr. Hayden made it very clear that the ionizing radiation from the mammograms actually increases one’s chance of getting cancer.

Getting mammograms before one has undergone full term pregnancy is likely to increase the risk because the breast undergoes its final maturation phase with pregnancy. Therefore, young women like her daughters that haven’t been pregnant are actually putting themselves at risk taking on these yearly mammograms.

Dr. Hayden told me MRI’s with gadolinium are also paired with the mammograms for testing, the MRI’S are not dangerous but not effective on their own in detecting cancer, the gadolinium is needed as a tracer, an injectable agent that shows you the vascularity. And for the longest time people believed gadolinium was safe as long as you didn’t have kidney trouble, but it has come to light in the last few years that gadolinium has some negative effects on the brain. It could even lead to Alzheimer’s.

Dr. Hayden is horrified at the thought of having her daughters submit to this. Especially when younger breasts are denser and denser breast tissue doesn’t mammogram well to begin with. She feels the whole system is upside down. Why would they offer such toxic treatments and technologies to young women? This got Dr. Hayden thinking there has to be some non-toxic, safer way to go about these screenings.

One of the technologies Barbara uses is ultrasound which is a very sensitive technology. Ultrasounds were not historically used for screenings because they couldn’t provide a reproducible view but in recent years this has changed. The new technologies for screening through ultrasound come from GE, Siemens and Dr. Hayden’s choice, Sonocine. GE and Siemens use a product that is a kind of cage the breast goes in and then the equivalent of the transducer head sweeps up and down and gives you a regimented cross-section of the breast that produces three-dimensional pictures.

Sonocine has a very different approach.  A woman wears a vest and a warm gel is put on the vest. There is an automated arm that allows the transducer to capture the entire breast all the way from the back to the central bone called the sternum on your chest. Which gives you a really good view.

Some people complain that the ultrasound is too sensitive, and it picks up every little thing that could lead to unnecessary surgery, but this is not a legitimate complaint because ultrasounds are non-toxic and not pricy. So essentially, they could follow every legion over time to see exactly what it is until the decision for surgery comes about. The ultrasound technology is not only ideal for young women but is the most effective choice for woman with implants as well. It is quite difficult to get an implanted breast into a mammogram and can also be painful. The Sonocine machine is a small machine and could essentially fit inside every gynecologist office.

Gynecologists already have ultrasound machines for ovarian cancer screenings so adapting the SONOCINE which is a safer, non-toxic technology makes sense.  The other technology that Barbara is focusing on is the ISET, which finds Circulating Cancer Cells in the blood long before metastasis can occur. Circulating Cancer Cells are in the blood months before a tumor mass can become detectable and the ISET provides imaging for it which allows the opportunity for early treatment.

I asked Dr. Hayden, what are some of the things a woman can do to prevent cancer? She made it very clear that diet is very important. Broccoli, kale and brussels sprouts are incredibly good for you. Broccoli in particular, makes a product called indole-3-carbinol, which is almost as effective as tamoxifen in preventing cancer. So, she says you should have broccoli in your diet every day. Living a healthy lifestyle in general is what it’s all about.

It was incredible to sit down with Dr. Hayden and get so much insight on her take on breast cancer treatment and prevention. It was also eye opening to hear how a lot of the detection technologies today are actually harming you more than helping you. I am incredibly grateful Dr. Hayden, has the passion and motivation to bring forth technologies which are much more effective and safer for women during these trying and sensitive times. I know that future generations of woman will be very grateful to her as well.

Credit: Florian Klauer

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