All posts by mwood

Initial Breast Cancer Surgery – Lumpectomy or Mastectomy?

For anyone being diagnosed with breast cancer today, there is some good news. There is a “less is more” concept that has been gaining ground. It refers to doing “less” while attaining comparable outcomes.

Today I’ll talk about your initial breast surgery. Due to mammography screening and breast cancer awareness, breast cancer is often diagnosed at the earlier stages – stages 1 and 2. Often, this means that the lump is small and a lumpectomy would be a good option.

But guess what? In the last 10 years, the rate of mastectomy on the cancerous breast, or removal of both breasts, has increased dramatically despite the advances we have made in doing “less”.

Why is that? There is a misconception that “taking it all off” will ensure you’ll never have the cancer come back. Let’s face it, we are (justifiably) afraid of having cancer come back and it is not a big leap to think that removing the whole breast will get rid of the problem once and for all.

You may think this, and your doctor or your surgeon may recommend it, even when a lumpectomy is a perfectly good option.

Well, I have news for you. Having that breast amputated is no guarantee of a cancer-free future. Studies show that if you have a lumpectomy plus radiation, then you have a better chance of being cancer-free than if you have a mastectomy.  Put another way, you have a greater chance of cancer recurrence with a mastectomy (2.5%) than with a lumpectomy plus radiation (1.7%).  With a mastectomy, some breast tissue remains. And without radiation, there may still be cells in there that can cause trouble down the road.

The key is the radiation therapy.  The standard of care when doing lumpectomies is to have radiation therapy too.  Lumpectomy + radiation is called “breast conserving therapy”.

If you’re leaning towards mastectomy, get the facts about your particular case:

–          How big is the cancer?

–          Can chemotherapy before surgery help to shrink it or make it go away completely?

–          Are you a good candidate for lumpectomy? (see previous questions)

–          Is the surgeon competent with oncoplastic techniques, which use plastic surgery techniques to achieve a good cosmetic result after lumpectomy?

There are numerous factors that go into a surgery decision, including your own fear.  Try to make decisions based on the facts.


One more thing to consider is recovery time and reconstruction options. Your general state of health will impact your recovery from any surgery. The physical recovery time for lumpectomy is usually faster than with mastectomy. And the emotional/psychological effects of mastectomy can last a lifetime.

I’m definitely pro-lumpectomy if you are a good candidate for this “less is more” approach to early breast cancer. You will need to assess all the factors that feed into your choice between lumpectomy and mastectomy.

Interested in all your choices in the treatment of early breast cancer? Get my new book Smart Decisions about Breast Cancer – choices, risks, living well, preventing recurrence at

Vice President Biden’s Moonshot Initiative to Cure Cancer

So on Tuesday we heard President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address and heard about Joe Biden’s #Moonshot initiative to cure #cancer.


That is amazing. Billions of dollars have been spent on cancer research since Richard Nixon enacted the National Cancer Act in 1971, but where has it got us?

The research world focuses on identifying targets for toxic drug therapies that cut a wide swath through our bodies, damaging good and bad cells without discrimination.

We need leaders such as Obama and Biden who are showing that the goal should be CURE, not esoteric research. Research that does not focus on cure as its goal certainly increases the body of human knowledge, and our knowledge of the human body, but it does not get us to the cure.

As a breast cancer survivor, I want a cure for my disease, to know that it is definitively gone and will not recur in my body.

This Moonshot initiative will hopefully set the bar high, so that the research community gets really fixated on cancer cure rather than cancer status quo, which tries to make us believe it will take more decades and more of those billions and billions of dollars to find a cure.

We need a research model that is open source and open access. We need a cure-goal-oriented, efficient approach to research that avoids wasteful duplication of research studies and related resources.

Good for Joe #Biden for promising to address the research silos. Good for him to think about using #bigdata to synthesize mountains of data that can reveal insights to inform current treatment strategies. Good for him for saying it’s time to stop the fruitless cure research merry-go-round we’re on, and time to produce results that are as significant as the polio vaccine was in the 1950’s.  Good for stating we need breakthroughs.

Go, Joe, Go!
check this out, direct from VP Biden

A fresh start for 2016!

The new year always jumps out at me even though I know it’s coming.
And today is pretty special for me – my book Smart Decisions about Breast Cancer – choices, risks, living well, preventing recurrence is finally available for you and your friends to order from my website in paperback form.

I try to keep up with the latest in  breast cancer news and was quite happy to see the topics presented at the December 2015 San Antonio breast cancer conference – numerous of the conference topics have already been addressed in my book!

My book is “ahead of the curve”.  You don’t have to be a conference attendee to learn the most current thinking in breast  cancer – simply read Smart Decisions about Breast Cancer.

I’ll be doing some book signings around town in the coming weeks and months.

I will start the new year with a presentation at a local health store in Mississauga (Event – Living Well through Breast Cancer and Beyond), where you can hear about living well through and beyond breast cancer, with a discussion of numerous natural substances that have anti-breast cancer properties. You’ll want to know about these to help prevent a recurrence.

Happy New Year and good health to all!


Smart Decisions about Breast Cancer – Choices, Risks, Living Well, Preventing Recurrent

It’s June and I’ve been putting the finishing touches on my new book. Did you notice I’ve changed the title?
I think it is very appropriate and hope it resonates with you.
So much is happening with breast cancer research. It is truly wonderful that such progress is being made.
Still waiting for breakthrough results, of course.
But maybe they are in the works.
Let’s not be complacent and accept assurances that in 25 years we will see a cure. That is nonsense.

If you have been following my facebook page, you will know that there are lots of interesting tidbits out there, some of which are reassuring and some of which give one pause to think.
Check out the page, “like” it, and you’ll get my future posts to the page.
Here is the link:

I want to revamp this website but without the time to do so, it is easier to update what is here.
I hope you enjoy.
And share the information with your friends who are in a “need to know” position, if you know what I mean.