FAQ on cancer treatment

Q. What if I've had breast cancer? Will bio-identical hormones help prevent my cancer from recurring?

A. The topic of cancer is enormously complex, and we simply do not know enough to be able to predict the perfect treatment. Because most breast cancer cells have receptors for estrogen and/or progesterone, it is felt by conventional practitioners that any intake of such hormones, bio-identical or not, will potentially stimulate the growth of such tumor cells. Since Dr. Chen is not an oncologist, she does not feel comfortable treating a breast cancer survivor with HRT specifically for the hopes of preventing cancer. In rare cases, Dr. Chen has prescribed HRT for breast cancer survivors solely for the purpose of increasing quality of life, but each case with the support of the involved oncologist. Breast cancer survivors who are interested in specifically going on the Wiley ProtocolTM or bio-identical HRT should consult with Dr. Julie Taguchi, at the Sansum Medical Clinic in Santa Barbara, who has treated multiple cancer patients with the Wiley ProtocolTM. Dr. Taguchi is also currently the principal investigator on the BHOT (Bio-identical Hormones On Trial) study, and is keeping meticulous follow-up records of multiple cancer patients who have elected to use this protocol.

Q. What if I've had prostate cancer and I think my testosterone is low? Will testosterone replacement help me?

A. Similar to breast cancer, prostate cancer is also an enormously complex disease. It is currently felt by conventional practitioners that testosterone replacement may potentially increase the risk of prostate cancer recurrence, although the literature is not definitive. In fact, there is good evidence in the cancer literature that higher testosterone levels in a man actually correlate with LESS prostate cancer, whereas higher estrogen levels correlate with more prostate cancer. If a man with a personal history of prostate cancer has documented significantly decreased quality of life directly related to low testosterone levels, Dr. Chen will only agree to cautiously replace his testosterone if he has a urologist who is supportive of such treatment, and who is willing to follow the patient along closely in case of any cancer recurrence. The follow-ups will obviously include serial lab draws for PSA value, a marker for prostate cancer.

Q. What if I have a history of other types of cancers? Will HRT help prevent my cancer?

A. Dr. Chen feels that first and foremost in preventing cancer, is a healthy lifestyle, including appropriate nutrition and exercise, sleep, and stress management. Beyond that, whether there is a role for HRT will depend on a detailed evaluation of each individual patient. Dr. Chen recommends discussing such potential decisions thoroughly with your personal oncologist and obtaining approval from him/her before initiating any HRT treatment plan.