Mar 31, 2014 02:23AM
Thermography or medical infrared imaging, is a painless, non-invasive, and inexpensive breast scan approved by the FDA for women of any age. Research suggests that breast cancer survival rests upon the earliest possible detection. When discovered early, 95% cure rates are possible, making breast thermography an essential part of risk assessment and early detection.
Thermography involves fascinating technology. It is a physiologic test measuring heat levels in the tissue. Interpreting a thermogram requires a complex computerized system, which measures heat in the breast, by analyzing images taken by a state-of-the-art medical infrared camera. All of us are heat generators, and most of the heat we produce is normal. A thermogram detects abnormal heat in the breast tissue, (angiogenesis, or new blood vessel formation, necessary to sustain the growth of a tumor), which is one of the earliest signs that a breast cancer may be forming.
Thermography is an imaging procedure that uses no radiation, injections, extreme pressure or other invasive methods. Infrared markers of early stage cancers, missed by other methods, may be discovered using thermography. The beautiful thing about thermography is that it is capable of picking up these early signs, while giving us 90% sensitivity and specificity.
Mammogram is an x-ray (radiation) and a structural test. It detects micro calcifications and masses in breast tissue, which may or may not be benign. Unfortunately, cancer has already formed and been present in the breast for some time before detection by mammogram is possible. Christiane Northrup, MD, Board Certified OB/GYN and author, a strong advocate of thermography, states, “I understand that mammography has been the gold standard for years. Doctors are the most familiar with this test and many believe that a mammogram is the best test for detecting breast cancer early, but it’s not. Studies show that a thermogram identifies precancerous or cancerous cells earlier.”
The inclusion of thermography in breast cancer awareness and prevention plans is essential. It helps differentiate high-risk women, detect changes in breast tissue early and may give women a significant chance of beating an aggressive and widespread disease. It has been determined that no one method of examination alone can serve all the needs of breast cancer detection. Thermography can help in this arena, especially given how many women have dense breast tissue, which lowers the sensitivity of mammography.
It is also important to note that if women began receiving thermographic scans in their 20’s, we could be given a significant opportunity to change the course of a woman’s life. Breast cancers in younger women are generally more aggressive and have poorer survival rates. Breast thermography offers younger women a valuable imaging tool that they can add to their regular breast health check-ups. The importance of including thermography cannot be over emphasized. In this day and age, we need to be as pro-active as possible, in order to finally stop breast cancer from being so prevalent and the cancer women fear the most. Breast thermography has developed into an important tool in the fight against breast cancer and is important to include in any breast health program.
Donna Marie Scippa has been a nurse practitioner in women’s health for more than 20 years, based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Scippa will be in Fairfax to present a free women’s health workshop and clinic April 24 to 27.
Source: Huffington Post, October 12, 2010