In Israel, this year alone, about 1,000 women under the age of 50 will discover they have breast cancer. If this is not devastating enough, many of these young women, still of childbearing age, will go into early menopause as a result of life saving chemotherapy treatments. This means that 40% - 90% of young women diagnosed with breast cancer will have to cope not only with the diagnosis of breast cancer but also the physical and emotional aspects of early menopause, including irregular menstruation, hot flashes, irritability, trouble sleeping, vaginal dryness and many emotional issues which will significantly affect their quality of life. Making matters worse, many women who suffer from difficult or early menopause have the choice of taking hormone therapy treatment to reduce the symptoms; however, this is not an option for breast cancer patients. So what can be done?
At the Breast Cancer Unit, located at Israel's Rabin Medical Center's Davidoff Center, steps are being taken to help young breast cancer patients deal with these serious issues and cope with early menopausal symptoms. This intervention includes providing more relevant information for the staff and the patients, psychiatric counseling by trained professionals, referrals to alternative services offered at the Davidoff Center by the Unit of Integrative Medicine which provides alternative treatments such as yoga, shiatsu and others, and most importantly establishing new treatment protocols. Since a large percentage of women in Israel suffering from both breast cancer and early menopause are being treated at the Davidoff Center there is a good chance for significant research by collecting patient data. The findings from this research can result in better understanding and treatment options for these women who have surly suffered enough.
The woman and her husband, an ultra-Orthodox couple living in the central Israel community of Kfar Khabad, were married over 40 years ago, and have been trying to have a child for nearly four decades.
American Friends of Rabin Medical Center sponsored Dr. Yeela Talmor for a four-week observership in the Cardiology Department at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.