Infection Prevention Month

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every 20 hospitalized patients will contract a healthcare-associated infection. The spread of these infections, however, can be controlled. There are several simple and cost-effective strategies that can help prevent infections, from the basic tenet of hand hygiene to the team-oriented approach of Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Programs.

Four infection prevention and process improvement experts weigh-in on the 10 best strategies for prevention of infections.

1. Hand Hygiene. According to the CDC, this is the simplest approach to preventing the spread of infections and needs to be incorporated into the culture of the organization. Surgical team personnel should wash their arms and forearms before a procedure and put on sterile gloves, according to CDC guidelines for infection control. Steven J. Schweon, RN, MPH, infection prevention consultant and member of The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, suggests the “clean in, clean out” approach, wherein hands and equipment are cleaned or disinfected on the way into the patient’s room and on the way out again.

2. Environmental hygiene. According to J. Hudson Garrett, PhD, MSN, MPH, FNP-BC, CSRN, VA-BC, senior director for clinical affairs at PDI, one of the most common sources of transmission of infection is environmental surfaces. Certain types of microbial bacteria are capable of surviving on environmental surfaces for months at a time, according to Mr. Garrett. When healthcare providers or patients touch these surfaces with their skin, the bacteria can be transmitted, causing infection. Thus, it is essential that the environment be kept clean and disinfected. Patients and their families are now the biggest advocates of medical safety, and Mr. Garrett suggests including them in infection prevention protocols, especially with respect to maintaining a clean and sanitary environment. It is also important to involve multidisciplinary environmental hygiene teams in meetings regarding adherence to infection prevention protocols. Irena L. Kenneley, PhD, APRN-BC, assistant professor at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and member of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Prevention, says that meeting with environmental services and sharing in-house surveillance data helps them relate housekeeping tasks with the spread of infection and helps ensure optimal environmental hygiene.

3. Screening and cohorting patients. Part of the preoperative health evaluation process should include consistent screening of patients, says Siew Lee Grand-Clément, a black belt in robust process improvement at the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare. These patients must then be treated prior to surgery or any other procedure. However, it is essential that patients who are suffering from the same disease or infection should be kept together in a designated area. “This is essential to ensure that cross infections do not happen,” says Dr. Kenneley. Infections can spread easily from one patient to another if they are being treated in the same area, with the same staff and shared patient care equipment. Some infectious agents are even airborne, says the CDC. Organizations must also evaluate whether the staff is adhering to specific protocols for specific infections, Dr. Kenneley says.

4. Vaccinations. The staff at a healthcare organization may sometimes be the cause of the spread of infections. They come into contact with patients with different types of diseases and may contract infections, according to the CDC. As a result, organizations must make sure that recommended vaccinations are being administered to their staff as recommended. “Keeping healthcare professionals healthy pays dividends,” says Mr. Schweon. It results in decreased transmission risk to co-workers and patients.

5. Surveillance. Through surveillance, organizations should gather data regarding infection patterns at their facility. They should also regularly assess current infection prevention protocols. Having a robust infection surveillance program helps organizations measure outcomes, assess processes of care and promote patient safety, says Mr. Schweon. Sharing the data that the infection surveillance program gathers is the next step. “Communicate, display and discuss all process and outcomes measures with all stakeholders,” says Dr. Kenneley.

6. Antibiotic stewardship. The misuse and overuse of antibiotics can put patients at a risk of contracting infections, according to the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology. Inappropriate antibiotic use may also result in patients becoming resistant to some drugs. If those patients contract an infection, it becomes harder to treat them and the risk of it spreading increases. Mr. Schweon suggests establishing a program to assist with appropriate antibiotic selection and dosing. This helps optimize patient outcomes and minimize adverse events like C. difficile infection and antibiotic toxicity, he says.

7. Care coordination. Breakdown of communication in the surgical preparation, planning and postoperative care management among various care providers during the care transition process can lead to surgical site infections that could otherwise be avoided, says Ms. Grand-Clément. Often, the concept of “stopping the line” is not practiced, which is when care providers are doubtful if certain necessary infection prevention or surgical preparation activities have been completed by the previous care providers, and they halt the care transition process until the matter is resolved. Organizations must avoid situations where a certain process is overlooked by a department that assumes another department has already completed that it. “Activities must be timed and accountability should be specifically assigned,” she says. There needs to be coordination of care and communication within the surgical team as well. There is a risk of breaking the sterile field in the surgery room particularly around the portion of the surgical procedure when multiple, critical activities are taking place at the same time that require staff to multitask, she says. Care coordination goes a long way in preventing surgical site infections.

8. Following the evidence. Keeping abreast of the latest findings regarding the spread of infections and strategies for prevention is essential for a successful infection prevention program. “Infection preventionists must continually monitor the professional literature and attend educational conferences for the latest information with preventing infections,” says Mr. Schweon. However, it is also important to first look at the reality of your organization’s processes and perform your own gap assessment before adopting new practices. What is new in the infection prevention field may not necessarily be the best fit for your organization, says Ms. Grand-Clément.

9. Appreciating all the departments that support the infection prevention program. An organization’s culture may need to shift from thinking that only infection preventionists are accountable for infection prevention, because every patient encounter throughout the care continuum presents all healthcare workers with an infection prevention opportunity, says Ms. Grand-Clément. All caregivers are accountable, and to encourage infection prevention protocols, healthcare professionals should show appreciation for all the people who help keep infections at bay, from the people who prepare surgical instruments for the operating room to those preparing the food safely for patients, staff and visitors, says Mr. Schweon.

10. Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Programs. The Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program is a structured strategic framework for patient safety improvement that integrates communication, teamwork and leadership, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Each unit should have its own infection prevention champions, with these individuals becoming an extension of the infection prevention and control department, adds Mr. Garrett. “The CUSP program has demonstrated time and time again how effective unit-based champions can be in influencing positive change and improving outcomes,” says Mr. Garrett.

Each of these strategies helps organizations keep the spread of infections at bay. When implemented, supported and carried out together, these 10 strategies are instrumental in ensuring the success of an infection prevention program at an organization.


“Always hold fast to the present. Every situation, indeed every moment, is of infinite value, for it is the representative of a whole eternity.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Don’t let bad memories control your life! Consider 8 ways to heal!


Consider 8 Ways to Heal:

1. Psychotherapy can help identify past trauma. Steven may talk about his father; and how that relationship gets played out in his life. Suzanne will have to deal realistically with her deceased mother. She may have been loved, but she was hurt as well.

2. Grief requires dealing with your deceased parent; warts and all. You accept that you were traumatized; you may even forgive. But, you become determined not to let those wound ruin your life today.

3. Identify your triggers. Everyone who’s been traumatized has triggers and responses. Get to know yours. For Steven, it’s hard assignment that puts him back in the headset of a worried ten year old. He freezes. For Suzanne, it simply can someone who raises his or her voice. She is, once again, like a six year old overwhelmed by an enraged mother. She runs.

4. The Trigger-Response recreates the past. When you run, freeze or attack, you end up recreating and therefore, re-enforcing the past. You freeze and people think you are cold and stonewalling. If you run, nothing will last. And, if you rage in response to being triggered, you are doing what was done to you. People will withdraw or be injured; not a good outcome.

5. Good therapy also helps you to rediscover your strengths. We are not just damaged creatures, but also living beings with power and talents. Many people discover strength they never knew they had in treatment. This, in turn, gives you more motivation to overcome  the trauma of your youth. With competent psychotherapy you may be able to gain the strength to deal with being triggered, without harming others – or yourself. Happiness is that important.

6. Alternative treatments like EMDR, Somatic Experiencing and DBT may help as well. These treatments help with muting the triggers that are neurologically embedded in your brain. Remember that the fight, flight and freeze response has an evolutionary purpose. It protects the organism from dangerous situations. You may need specialized expertise to overcome this programming.

7. Often trauma is found alongside other psychiatric disorders like Anxiety or Depression. An intelligent use of psychiatric medications can reduce the trigger-response effect and give you an opportunity to create a future response that is not dictated by your past.

8. Spirituality can be invaluable. No one can tell you HOW to be spiritual, but for many, some form of faith can truly detoxify. (As long as you are not in a faith that makes you more anxious and burdened.) People may have hurt you, but a new life is yours for the taking. Look up at the stars. Smell the fresh air. Sense the opportunity in every moment. And, know that you are part of something larger than you. It settles the soul.

The Power of Letting Go: We often speak of the dead with the words;

“He (or She) Should Rest in Peace.” Yes, they should.

Yet, we often don’t think about the ways that people who are gone still impact us, even though they are not here. Your mom or dad may be gone, but their hurt remains. And, you have some choice to live a better life despite what happened to you.

Eugene O’Neill opened the door. The past does affect the present – and the future.

But, contemporary psychology opens the door wider. You can be free from your past.

It starts with consciousness. Then, the journey is all up to you.


About the Author

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“Every woman wants to know what she can do to lower her risk of breast cancer. Some of the factors associated with breast cancer — being a woman, your age, and your genetics, for example — can’t be changed. Other factors — being overweight, lack of exercise, smoking cigarettes, and eating unhealthy food — can be changed by making choices. By choosing the healthiest lifestyle options possible, you can empower yourself and make sure your breast cancer risk is as low as possible.”

Part IV Breast Cancer warning signs, risk factors, comparison of various ethnic groups regarding this Dx.& statistics.

Cancer seems like a thunder bolt that it all of a sudden hits us from nowhere, like what happened to my Dad that was in 1999 when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer with passing on in about 6 months after diagnosed. Than the hit from nowhere makes the patient and significant others suddenly crippled and not prepared for this diagnosis (facing it with little knowledge or in some cases nothing you can do for the patient since its fatal other than support). No wonder why cancer fears society. To top that alone it is costly, debilitating, depressing, and even fatal, like in my father’s case.

Early detection can vastly improve survival figures, that is not just pertaining to breast cancers but to most diseases period. Delaying to seek advice when changes are recognized is a big mistake.

Let’s include in this article the seven warning signs of cancer:

*A sore that does not heal

*Unusual bleeding or discharge

*Obvious change in a wart or mole

*Change in bowel or bladder habits

*Persistent cough or hoarseness

*Thickening or lump in the breast or anywhere else in the body

*Persistent indigestion or difficulty swallowing

Instead of getting it wouldn’t you rather PREVENT it. Remember our disease killers in the USA.    Our #1 killer is cardiovascular our #2 killer is cancer in America!

**Here are some general risk factors for cancer & try to prevent having them in your lives or abusing them (moderation – the key to many things that are not used that way in US). Abuse of anything results in disaster.

1.) Smoking (stop period) including chewing tobacco and dipping snuff.

2.) Diets high in fat or low in fiber. Obesity as well is a risk factor for cancer, odds are high that the diet was high in fat even causing the obesity in the first place.                     

3.) Age is over 50 or too much unresolved stress in your life.

4.) Abuse of alcoholism or inadequate amount of vitamins or minerals in your diet.      Exposure to environmental or occupational cancer causing substances (air, water, radiation, disaster like 9/11, or even food).

5.) Too much radiation from various sources (ex. Sun bathing to close to radiation treatments someone is receiving on a oncology unit, simply Sun overexposure).

6.) Fair complexion (pale) or even family history of cancers in the family (highest risk is within the nuclear family having a mother or father or sibling with cancer).

**Most cancers with heredity in the nuclear family including a bad life style puts that individual at higher probability of inheriting or getting that cancer.**

The American Cancer Society had presented shocking facts that 83% of lung cancer patients in America are caused by smoking (a complete preventable measure). Furthermore they present 30% of cancer deaths in America are due to smoking.

We the people of America can control many factors in our diet and exercise to control diseases period we have want to make the move and if we did disease decrease in time would be outstanding. In the end it would make our economy better with our insurance overall. Ending line. this means less disease, less expense, and meaning better coverage (less out of our pockets financially). For this to even get started we the people in the USA have to be willing to alter diets and exercise to a healthy pattern not a junk food frequently diet or sedentary lifestyle. Help make America a better country for all citizens of all ages. Our government surely hasn’t helped us in prevention tactics to lower statistics in showing less breast cancer significantly.

Looking over the past 35 years data shows very little evidence even with intense efforts and billions of dollars made by our government trying to aim at attempting to improve the treatment of cancer yet has had much overall effect on the most fundamental measure of clinical outcome…death. Cancer as a whole overall has slowly but surely lost ground in the battles and we don’t want to lose the war. This is shown by the rise in age-adjusted mortality rates in the entire population.

We do have many improvements with cancer treatment going from diagnostic tooling advancement with even drugs and drugs combined, a multitude of radiation methods and advanced surgical techniques. However, with all this due to increased cancer research, the government has yet to push the most important ingredient for cancer prevention. For every 3 dollars spent on cancer research, only one dollar goes spent in the area of prevention. When your government representative speaks of further cancer research you may want to find out is it for prevention or treatment. My vote is prevention before getting diagnosed with it. That is like the government waiting for a bomb to land on the USA before taking measures to prevent it. Why wait for the disaster when it can be prevented completely and no mess to deal with. Makes sense? Sure does to me and many.

Take a completely different country in eating alone. Let us look at Japan and their women. They eat a completely different diet than women in the USA. Japanese women have ¼ the amount of breast cancer than American women; is this mainly genetics? When Japanese women move to the great USA they assume our diets and get the same death rates from breast cancer that American women get when diagnosed with it. My eyes see diet in America (fast food=JUNK). Moderation if not completely banded out of your diet = fast food. Americans who eat junk food on a regular basis are looking at abusing fast food as oppose to a treating themselves to junk food now and than (this is what we call moderation).

Moderation with anything legal and not abusive to your body (ex. Alcohol or prescribed drugs) is someone with will power. That is what is takes to prevent breast cancer and many other diseases which includes a healthy diet, some regular exercising, keeping your weight ideal to your body mass index, and having the yearly physicals or addressing new symptoms by going to your doctor to have him or she evaluate what it is with the treatment for it. Obese and can’t lose the weight on your own get a MD consult to see what surgery or other options you have to decrease weight.



“Studies have shown that your risk for breast cancer is due to a combination of factors. The main factors that influence your risk include being a woman and getting older. Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older.”

Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

Part III Breast Cancer – Know the risk factors you can change!

breast cancer prevention



We will look at modifiable risk factors today.

Let me give you a perfect example that could have been probably prevented.  I lived in a home with 2 great parents who built my childhood foundation which made me in the end when leaving home became a good community citizen asset to America. I am a RN for over 31 years, a person teaching and caring for others from burn units to oncology to Med. Surg to step down ICU to ICU to Surgical ICU to Recovery Rooms to Visiting Nurse to helping our veterans as a cardiac coordinator RN for the VA, to Hospice and finally returning back to Cardiac – telemetry including PCU CARDIAC units. I now am a employee RN in NYC on a telemetry unit to vast other floors when needed from a traveling RN that has gone from the East NY/NJ/Virginia to California hospitals.

My father was 62 years old when died.  He had a wonderful marriage and 4 great kids. He was a hard working man who married into a happy life that ended up going to disability at 54 thanks to smoking from childhood into adulthood (plus he lived not on the lowest fat diet in the world) and stayed on that diet till becoming a cardiac patient at about 53 (He loved Hellman’s Mayo and chocolate with whole milk). His father died early at 62 years old of a heart attack; but still he became a smoker young and pretty much watched his weight but only real healthy till 54 when put on disability due to his heart. He kept himself in a good workout regime and good diet at that point with still working odd jobs here and there for extra money to pay the bills at 54. At 62 was in the hospital for pancreatitis that further was diagnosed to Pancreatic Cancer having the whipple surgery done and went to Columbia Presbyterian NYC for chemo that May which ended in August/September that year since it did very little and turned him into a stick. He was buried before that Christmas.   Tragic? Yes Preventable? High probability.  That is the theme of this article.

With high probability my father got this was due to many years of cigarette smoking 1/2 or 1 pack a day (many pancreatic cancer patients are smokers or former smokers). Those with this history are 2x more at risk of getting this cancer. Most people diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer are over 60, which my father was.  Other risks for this cancer are diets with high red meat for your meals puts you at more of a risk which he was most of his life (on red meats till a cardiac patient) and his gender didn’t help him (more men have it than women). My father wasn’t an alcoholic but on weekends had his beer. Alcohol puts you at risk as well in particular for chronic pancreatitis (commonly seen in alcoholics); in my father’s case it was his first time that year diagnosed with it.  From my personal stand point I see his smoking, diet (high red meats most of his life) with his gender that didn’t help putting him at  a lower risk for getting the disease.

My point, PREVENTION is the key to stopping cancer. That would be through modifiable risk control.   Modifiable risks to breast cancer we can control and those factors are:

Weight. Being overweight is associated with increased risk of breast cancer, especially for women after menopause. Fat tissue is the body’s main source of estrogen after menopause, when the ovaries stop producing the hormone. Having more fat tissue means having higher estrogen levels, which can increase breast cancer risk.

Diet. Studies are looking at the relationship between diet and breast cancer risk and the risk of recurrence. The Women’s Health Initiative Trial suggested that a diet very low in fat may reduce the risk of breast cancer. More research is needed in this important area for women who are interested in eating well to reduce their risk of ever getting breast cancer.

In the meantime, here’s what dietitians suggest:

  • Keep your body weight in a healthy range for your height and frame. Body mass index, though not a perfect measurement, can help you estimate your healthy weight.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit (more than 5 cups a day).
  • Try to limit your saturated fat intake to less than 10% of your total calories per day and limit your fat intake to about 30 grams per day.
  • Eat foods high in omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Avoid trans fats, processed meats, and charred or smoked foods.

You’ll find that processed foods generally don’t fit in this type of diet as well as fresh foods do. For more information, visit our page on healthy eating to reduce risk of breast cancer in the Nutrition section.

Exercise. Evidence is growing that exercise can reduce breast cancer risk. The American Cancer Society recommends engaging in 45-60 minutes of physical exercise 5 or more days a week.

Alcohol consumption. Studies have shown that breast cancer risk increases with the amount of alcohol a woman drinks. Alcohol can limit your liver’s ability to control blood levels of the hormone estrogen, which in turn can increase risk.

Smoking. Smoking is associated with a small increase in breast cancer risk.

Exposure to estrogen. Because the female hormone estrogen stimulates breast cell growth, exposure to estrogen over long periods of time, without any breaks, can increase the risk of breast cancer. Some of these risk factors are under your control, such as:

  • taking combined hormone replacement therapy (estrogen and progesterone; HRT) for several years or more, or taking estrogen alone for more than 10 years
  • being overweight
  • regularly drinking alcohol

Recent oral contraceptive use. Using oral contraceptives (birth control pills) appears to slightly increase a woman’s risk for breast cancer, but only for a limited period of time. Women who stopped using oral contraceptives more than 10 years ago do not appear to have any increased breast cancer risk.

Stress and anxiety. There is no clear proof that stress and anxiety can increase breast cancer risk. However, anything you can do to reduce your stress and to enhance your comfort, joy, and satisfaction can have a major effect on your quality of life. So-called “mindful measures” (such as meditation, yoga, visualization exercises, and prayer) may be valuable additions to your daily or weekly routine. Some research suggests that these practices can strengthen the immune system.

The National Cancer Institute estimates an outstanding 80% of cancer in America is do to our lifestyles particularly DIET and EXERCISE. That includes Breast Cancer. I am not saying it is the only reason but a large percentage has to do with it and with changing it to a healthy one if your diet is not already including your exercise it lowers the probability for a large amount of people in America from getting cancer.  This principle also pertains to many other diseases (Ex. Obesity, High blood pressure, Diabetes, etc…)

Breast cancer is a polygenic and multifactorial disease for which estrogens have been recognized as the main risk factor, and for which lifestyle plays a key role. Previous epidemiologic cancer research performed in Uruguayan population delimited its dietary and anthropometric profiles (use for identification, use for the purposes of understanding human physical variation and in various attempts to correlate physical with racial and psychological traits). Recognizing the difficulty for universalizing a nutritional basis for prevention due to different eating patterns among regions and countries, what was summarized was the existent knowledge linking nutrition, estrogens, metabolism and Breast Cancer. As an attempt towards primary prevention of Breast Cancer, present recommendations mainly based on country-specific research findings and modifiable putative risk and protective factors, proposing to modify the intake of meats and other fatty foods – especially sources of Ω-6 and Ω-3 fatty acids – adding olive oil, selected vegetables, citrus fruits and working towards adequate body fat/muscle proportions. From a medical and ethical viewpoint, it is justified to recommend certain nutritional changes to women, because no adverse side effects are expected to occur.

There is evidence for an inverse association between physical activity and breast cancer risk. The evidence is stronger for postmenopausal breast cancer than for premenopausal breast cancer.

The National Cancer Institute is that 80 percent of all cancers is due to our lifestyles. For some who are already active and eating healthy your already ahead of many in prevention of cancer but for those who don’t you dramatically alter your risks going towards higher probability of possibility getting cancer. If your one of those people I have great news this risk is controllable and you can fix it.

The modifiable risk factors are ones like your eating and exercise, which you have full control of. I am not saying become a weight lifter or workout in a gym 4 x/wk if you don’t now. What I am saying is increase your activity with some exercise like walking a mile a day or what you can tolerate and increase your exercise overtime.  If you get yourself up to 2 to 5 miles a day, great! If you become a regular at the gym or weight lifter great but you don’t have to go to that extreme of being a Sylvester Stallone.

Come back for Part IV on Breast Cancer covering “the seven warning signs of cancer”, risk factors for getting cancers, cultures differences of breast cancer in other countries and where we have gone in the past 35 years with research and why breast cancer is the the second leading killer in America.



“Whether your cancer is invasive or noninvasive helps your doctor determine whether your cancer may have spread beyond your breast, which treatments are more appropriate for you, and your risk of developing cancer in the same breast or your other breast.”


Part II Breast Cancer

Is there a link between birth control pills and breast cancer?

A number of older studies suggested that birth control pills slightly increased the risk of breast cancer, especially among younger women. In these studies, however, 10 years after discontinuing birth control pills women’s risk of breast cancer returned to the same level as that of women who never used oral contraceptives. Current evidence does not support an increase in breast cancer with birth control pills.

Be vigilant about breast cancer detection. If you notice any changes in your breasts, such as a new lump or skin changes, consult your doctor. Also, ask your doctor when to begin mammograms and other screenings.

Once you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, your doctor works to find out the specifics of your tumor. Using a tissue sample from your breast biopsy or using your tumor if you’ve already undergone surgery, your medical team determines your breast cancer type. This information helps your doctor decide which treatment options are most appropriate for you.

Here’s what’s used to determine your breast cancer type.

Is your cancer invasive or noninvasive?

Whether your cancer is invasive or noninvasive helps your doctor determine whether your cancer may have spread beyond your breast, which treatments are more appropriate for you, and your risk of developing cancer in the same breast or your other breast.

  • Noninvasive (in situ) breast cancer. In situ breast cancer refers to cancer in which the cells have remained within their place of origin — they haven’t spread to breast tissue around the duct or lobule. One type of noninvasive cancer called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is considered a precancerous lesion. This means that if it were left in the body, DCIS could eventually develop into an invasive cancer. Another type of noninvasive cancer called lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) isn’t considered precancerous because it won’t eventually evolve into invasive cancer. LCIS does, however, increase the risk of cancer in both breasts.
  • Invasive breast cancer. Invasive (infiltrating) breast cancers spread outside the membrane that lines a duct or lobule, invading the surrounding tissues. The cancer cells can then travel to other parts of your body, such as the lymph nodes. If your breast cancer is stage I, II, III or IV, you have invasive breast cancer.

In what part of the breast did your cancer begin?

The type of tissue where your breast cancer arises determines how the cancer behaves and what treatments are most effective. Parts of the breast where cancer begins include:

  • Milk ducts. Ductal carcinoma is the most common type of breast cancer. This type of cancer forms in the lining of a milk duct within your breast. The ducts carry breast milk from the lobules, where it’s made, to the nipple.
  • Milk-producing lobules. Lobular carcinoma starts in the lobules of the breast, where breast milk is produced. The lobules are connected to the ducts, which carry breast milk to the nipple.
  • Connective tissues. Rarely breast cancer can begin in the connective tissue that’s made up of muscles, fat and blood vessels. Cancer that begins in the connective tissue is called sarcoma. Examples of sarcomas that can occur in the breast include phyllodes tumor and angiosarcoma.

FYI a complication that can occur with advanced cancer that many of you may be unaware of. Bone metastasis occurs when cancer cells spread from their original site to a location in the bone. The most common types of cancer more likely to spread to bone include breast, prostate and lung cancers.

Bone metastasis can occur in any bone, but more commonly occurs in the pelvis and spine. Bone metastasis may be the first sign that you have cancer, or it may occur years after your cancer treatment is completed, ex. Hodgkins Disease.

Signs and symptoms of bone metastasis may include the following:

  • Bone pain (back and pelvic pain are most common)
  • Unexplained broken bones
  • Loss of urine and/or bowel function
  • Weakness in the legs
  • High levels of calcium in the blood (hypercalcemia), which can cause nausea, vomiting and confusion

The most common problem with metastatic bone cancer is pain and fractures. Metastatic bone cancer usually can’t be cured, but instead the goal is to provide pain relief and control further spread. Treatment can make a big difference and may include the following:

  • Medications to repair and build new bone — These medications are similar to those used by people with osteoporosis and can help in building and strengthening your bone.
  • Chemotherapy — Given as a pill or through a vein, used to control and treat cancer that has spread to the bone.
  • Traditional radiation therapy — Radiation is given as external beam therapy to treat the cancer in the bone.
  • Hormone therapy — Medications are used to block hormones (for breast and prostate cancers) that help control the spread of cancer to the bone.
  • Surgery — Used to fix a fracture and stabilize a break from the cancer in the bone.
  • Cryoablation — A special technique that freezes the cancer cells.
  • Radiofrequency ablation — A special technique that heats the cancer cells.
  • Chemoradiation — A form of internal radiation that is given through the vein and travels to the site of bone metastasis and targets the cancer cells.
  • Pain medications — Medications provided with the goal of relieving and controlling pain from bone metastasis.
  • Physical therapy — Exercises may be prescribed to assist in strengthening muscles and providing any assistive devices that may help you (cane, walker, crutches, etc.).

If you’re living with metastatic bone cancer, you may find help and resources from a website called Bone Health in Focus. It was established with partners including, the National Lung Cancer Partnership and Us TOO International Prostate Cancer Education & Support Network to offer resources that help patients and caregivers understand more about cancer that has spread to the bone (find the site at

Mayo Clinic information on cancer that has spread to the bone can be found at

Are you living with cancer that has spread to the bone? Feel free to share your experiences with each other on the this blog or on

Make the changes in your lifestyles including diet if you want to prevent cancer, live long and have a productive life.






“Breast cancers can start from different parts of the breast.

Most breast cancers begin in the ducts that carry milk to the nipple (ductal cancers). Some start in the glands that make breast milk (lobular cancers). There are also other types of breast cancer that are less common like phyllodes tumor and angio-sarcoma. A small number of cancers start in other tissues in the breast. These cancers are called sarcomas and lymphomas and are not really thought of as breast cancers.  Breast cancer can spread when the cancer cells get into the blood or lymph system and are carried to other parts of the body.”

American Cancer Society