Donna’s Official “Better-than-Awareness” Checklist

checklist updated“Breast cancer is a dominant fear for many women. Fortunately, it’s also largely a preventable disease with the right diet and a healthy lifestyle. Contrary to what most people hope for, early detection by mammography causes more harm than good. Radical surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are brutal remedies universally prescribed to women with breast cancer, yet they provide little survival benefit. Hormone manipulation is of some value, however the best and most overlooked approach for treating breast cancer is a change in diet and exercise.” – Dr. John Mcdougall. Read more here.


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The Downside of Mammograms – What Your Doctor May Not Be Telling You

peter-goetzchePeter Gotzsche, M.D., author of Mammography Screening: Truth, Lies and Controversy, states, “Screening saves probably one life for every 2,000 women who go for a mammogram. But it harms 10 others. Cancerous cells that will go away or never progress to disease in the woman’s lifetime are excised with surgery and sometimes (six times in 10) she will lose a breast. Treatments with radiotherapy and drugs, as well as the surgery itself, all have a heavy mental and physical cost. I believe the time has come to realize that breast cancer screening programs can no longer be justified.”  

Mammograms are the number one source of malpractice lawsuits against radiologists and this creates an incentive to over-diagnose breast cancer.    Dr. Fred Vernacchia, a radiologist and medical director at the San Luis Diagnostic Center in San Luis Obispo, The trouble with mammograms, LA Times

More Breast Cancer Experts are Now Speaking Out AGAINST Mammography

Michael Baum, an eminent professor of surgery at the University College, London, was involved in setting up the breast cancer screening program in the UK 20 years ago. Now he is an outspoken critic against mammography. He states, “I have watched with increasing alarm as evidence has accumulated that suggests the initial estimates of benefit were exaggerated and the initial estimate of harm was, frankly, ignored. What has gone wrong is that we would never have predicted how many of these cancers detected at screening lack the potential to threaten the woman’s life.”

Eric Topol, Medscape Editor-in-Chief and practicing cardiologist at Scripps in California, recently wrote an article titled, “Time to End Routine Mammography.” He says, All of the data now available point to significant net harm—far more risk than benefit— for routine mammography. If this were a drug, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would never approve it. Last year, the Swiss Medical Board, after reviewing all of the data, recommended abolishing mammography.” Time to End Routine Mammography, Medscape

“For too long, we’ve taken a brain-dead approach that says the best test is the one that finds the most cancers – but that’s wrong.”  – Dr. H. Gilbert Welch of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy, The trouble with mammograms, LA Times

“The goal of routine breast cancer screening is to prevent women from dying of breast cancer. Yet studies have shown that the popular claim ‘early detection saves lives’ is not actually true.” Breast Cancer Action, Should I Get A Mammogram? Understanding the Harms and Benefits of Routine Breast Cancer Screening

The Studies, the Facts, the Numbers, the Truth:

An unbiased review of SEVEN trials involving 600,000 women ages 39 to 74 concluded:

  • Screening did not reduce breast cancer 
  • For every 2000 women screened throughout 10 years, one will have her life prolonged and 10 healthy women, who would not have been diagnosed if there had not been screening, will be treated unnecessarily.
  • More than 200 (out of 2000) women will experience important psychological distress for many months because of false positive findings.”
  • A large 25-year study of 90,000 Canadian women aged 40 to 59 found no benefit for women who were randomly assigned to have mammograms:
  • The death rate from breast cancer was the same in both groups.
  • 22 percent of women in the mammography group were over-diagnosed resulting in 1 in 424 women receiving unnecessary cancer treatment, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.”

Another Very Serious Problem with Mammograms – False Negatives

A“false negative” is when a mammogram appears normal and cancer is actually present. According to Are You Dense?,  1 in 5 women (20 percent) will feel reassured they do not have breast cancer, when in fact they do. Breast density is one of the strongest predictors of the failure of mammographic screening to detect cancer. Two thirds of pre-menopausal and 1/4 of post-menopausal women have dense breast tissue. Please see Happy Gram the movie and ask for your past mammogram reports to see if you have dense breasts.

Even Worse, Could Mammograms Actually Induce and Promote Cancer? 

Dr. Samuel Epstein, chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition, and author of 270 scientific articles and 15 books on the causes and prevention of cancer states: “Radiation from routine mammography poses significant cumulative risks of initiating and promoting breast cancer. Contrary to conventional assurances that radiation exposure from mammography is trivial – and similar to that from a chest X-ray or spending one week in Denver, the routine practice of taking four films for each breast results in some 1,000-fold greater exposure. Premenopausal women undergoing annual screening over a ten-year period have an increased breast cancer risk by 1 percent per year resulting in a cumulative 10 percent increased risk over ten years.” – Dangers and Unreliability of Mammography, Cancer Prevention Coalition

What other screening options are there?

DCIS Redefined summarizes studies and provides information about thermography, ultrasound and MRI in comparison to mammography for screening or monitoring breast health. See Imaging and Monitoring. More on Automated Whole Breast Ultrasound coming soon! Read about Dr. Kevin Kelley, inventor of the SonoCine Automated Whole Breast Ultrasound here.

Is there anything else I can do to lower my risk of breast cancer?

Yes! Please check out The Proactive Breast Health Club to learn natural ways to reduce risk of breast cancer. It’s free to sign up to receive periodic articles.

More info and links to articles on Mammography here.

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Donna’s Story Featured in Women’s Health Magazine


Click here to read: ‘Why I Refused to Get Treatment When I Was Diagnosed with Breast Cancer’

“Everyone has the association that cancer is a death sentence.”

“You’re backed into a corner because of unknowns. My doctor said, ‘Don’t be stupid. Just do radiation at least.’ They called me stupid. But why would anybody have surgery if there’s nothing to be seen? I know why that’s happening, that rush to get it out. It’s just that knee-jerk reaction when we hear the word cancer.”

Read the full story here.

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On the Radio — Donna on “High Energy Health”

micIt was an honor to share my story and passion with Dawson Church on his radio show “High Energy Health.”

To listen, click here and scroll down to 9/8/2016 Donna Pinto – Give Wellness. Alternatively, click here for direct link to the mp3.

Thanks for listening!! 🙂 Donna

Dawson Church, PhD, Founder of the National Institute for Integrative Healthcare, is the primary investigator in many scientific studies, and the best-selling author of *The Genie in Your Genes.*
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Esserman & Hwang: TIME’s Top 100 — (And My Top 10!)

Highlights-Esserman-Hwang-TIME100-Blog-270x85What a major milestone this is!

Laura Esserman and Shelley Hwang — named to the 2016 TIME 100 Most Influential People in the World!

Why are These Doctors in My Top 10?

From the day I received a DCIS diagnosis and I was told of the very drastic and aggressive treatments, I began to investigate what intuitively felt seriously wrong. I was scared, confused and overwhelmed, but thankfully I soon discovered two breast surgeons leading a “controversial” call for change and discussing the problem of “over-treatment” of DCIS.

Laura Esserman and  Shelley Hwang became my heroes.  They were both boldly taking a stance — challenging the medical status quo when it came to DCIS and calling for radical change. I have been following and promoting their important messages for over six years.

Up until recently the mainstream media didn’t pay much attention to them. Celebrities with DCIS choosing double mastectomies made headline news while the over-treatment issue — potentially harming thousands of women every year — continued under the radar of the major media.

Then in August 2015, the largest study ever on DCIS concluded there was no difference in survival between DCIS treatments. Almost overnight Esserman and Hwang began to get the attention and recognition they deserved. Even I was featured in several major news segments! Click here to see all the exciting media hoopla.

The Inspiration to Create DCIS 411

One of the biggest reasons I felt compelled to create DCIS 411 was to share Esserman and Hwang’s published statements that I had been collecting for nearly two years.

I discovered their controversial wisdom soon after receiving the shocking blow that sent me scrambling to the internet in January 2010. Esserman and Hwang gave me my sanity back. I felt completely validated and reassured that I was not crazy for choosing to forego drastic and alarming “standard of care” treatment protocols my doctors in San Diego were urging me to do. I found a sense of peace and confidence knowing breast cancer experts believed as I did — only they had years of clinical experience and scientific research to back up what was just a strong gut feeling for me.

While I felt blessed and overjoyed every time I found an article quoting these experts, I knew most women probably did not have the time to research this topic as I had.

I felt strongly that every newly diagnosed woman deserved to know what these highly credible breast surgeons were stating. The problem, however, is all too often, women are rushed ahead with surgeries and radiation before they have a chance to blink. And even if they did find an article or two and they brought these out-of-the-box perspectives to their doctors, most surgeons and oncologists would likely not support them — or worse — scare them that DCIS was a “ticking time bomb.”

It sickened me to know that over 60,000 women a year might be missing a crucial message that could potentially save them from losing their breasts or sparing them from weeks of radiation.

Not Everyone Felt As I Did

When I first stumbled upon Esserman and Hwang’s bold viewpoints, I felt elated. I thought it would be a no-brainer for doctors and women to join the “less is more” bandwagon. To my astonishment, I was wrong. Resistance and even belittling from medical professionals and patients alike was what I experienced. Doctors quickly dismissed the topic of active surveillance as “too controversial” and “too risky.” My doctor actually said to me, “Don’t be stupid Donna.”

Even worse was the response from patients chatting in online DCIS support forums. When I shared links to articles discussing active surveillance and my choice to forego the standard of care aggressive protocol, a heated debate would often ensue. There were many naysayers and some were down-right mean. Many women argued — “DCIS IS CANCER” — and told me I was being foolish and irresponsible.

I quickly grew tired and frustrated hearing worst-case scenarios and statistics of bad outcomes. After being told NOT to “promote” my new DCIS 411 website by moderators in an online DCIS forum, I signed off for good. All I wanted was to help women find support, valuable resources and peace of mind if they were like me — seeking options to a fear-driven urgency to undergo potentially harmful treatments with little or no benefit.

How Sweet It Is — Making a Positive Difference 

Today, much has shifted for the better thanks to Laura Esserman and Shelley Hwang.

Thanks TIME Magazine and Melissa Etheridge for honoring them. You just made the mission of DCIS 411 and DCIS Redefined a whole lot easier.

See 2016 TIME 100, “Breast-Cancer Doctors Who Dare To Do Less.

Stay Tuned… 

Be sure to to stay updated on both Esserman and Hwang’s important studies by “following” DCIS 411 here and on Facebook.

See Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute for more information on their latest studies.

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Inspired to Give Back

giving_buddhaGive Wellness is my new nonprofit venture.

This project is inspired by all that I have learned since being diagnosed with DCIS in 2010.

The mission of Give Wellness is to give Free Wellness Workshops and Scholarships to under-served schools, individuals and groups.

Programs include:

HEALTHY Happy Hour Workshop:  

  • Participants learn tips and tricks for making easy, nutritious appetizers, non-dairy nut milks, power smoothies and healthy snacks.
  • Schools, senior centers, cancer support groups and nonprofits may apply here for a FREE Workshop.


  • Funds raised are given directly to people diagnosed with cancer (*or other serious life or health challenges).

Learn more at

Thank you to everyone who is joining me in my birthday wish to raise $5,100 to bring FREE wellness workshops and scholarships to people in need.

Read all about it here.


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DCIS Over-treatment Makes Mainstream News — 2015 Highlights

The media madness began in August 2015 following the publication of the most extensive study to date on DCIS in the prestigious medical Journal JAMA Oncology. The study of over 100,000 women concluded there was no “life-saving” benefit to “standard protocol” for DCIS (surgery, radiation and drugs).  “The analysis reinforces a growing belief that current treatment regimens for this condition are overly aggressive or outright unnecessary.” 

Donna in the news:

KPBS_TV_Aug 24_2015KPBS Radio & TV, August 24, 2015, Study Prompts San Diego Doctors, Patients To Question Breast Cancer Treatment Strategy  TOP STORY on Midday Edition — a LIVE 16 minute radio interview and 5 minute TV segment featuring Donna along with an oncologist from Sharp Hospital in San Diego.

TIMETIME Magazine, October 1, 2015: Why Doctors Are Rethinking Breast-Cancer Treatment Donna was interviewed via phone for 45 minutes for this article. She discussed how she was “blindsided” when given the diagnosis, yet she knew intuitively the standard aggressive DCIS protocol was not right. Sadly, this article focuses on “doing nothing” and does not mention being pro-active with regards to a holistic approach to diet and lifestyle as Donna emphasized was so important for herself as well as all women choosing “active surveillance.”

SDUTSan Diego Union Tribune, Study challenges status quo in breast cancer treatment  Donna’s story is featured in this FRONT PAGE article.

More major news stories and headlines:

GMAABC’s Good Morning America, August 21, 2015:

 ‘Stage Zero’ Breast Cancer: New Study Casts Doubt on Early Intervention


cbs news


CBS News TV segment, November 3, 2015 The debate over early breast cancer treatment


NY Times

New York Times, August 20, 2015: Doubt Is Raised Over Value of Surgery for Breast Lesion at Earliest Stage

New York Times, September, 28, 2015: A Breast Cancer Surgeon Who Keeps Challenging the Status Quo

JAMAJAMA Oncology, Editorial,  Rethinking the Standard for Ductal Carcinoma In Situ Treatment

Dr. EssermanHealth News Review, DCIS dilemma: Dr. Laura Esserman podcast


PreventionPrevention Magazine, Nov 5, 2015: Annual Mammograms Won’t Lower Your Risk Of Dying From Breast Cancer. Here’s What Will.

LA TimesLos Angeles Times, November 20, 2015: We should look less hard for cancer

ElleElle Magazine,


CNN, February 4, 2015: Time to change how we think about cancer

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