Breast Health Awareness comes first…
Every year when Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October) comes around I am a saddened and surprised that thermography hasn’t become more popular. My mindset is this, I’d rather focus on breast health and ways to prevent breast cancer at the cellular level than put the emphasis on testing and retesting until you finally do find something to poke, prod, cut out or radiate. That’s why I call October Breast Health Awareness Month, not Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 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, and produces unambiguous results, which cuts down on additional testing–and it doesn’t hurt the body. Isn’t this what women really want? I have been a medical thermographer since 2000 and would like to explain just how thermography works as a form of thermal (infrared) imaging.
It is widely acknowledged that cancers, even in their earliest stages, need nutrients to maintain or accelerate their growth. In order to facilitate this process, blood vessels are caused to remain open, inactive blood vessels are activated, and new ones are formed through a process known as neoangiogenesis. This vascular process causes an increase in surface temperature in the affected regions, which can be viewed with infrared imaging cameras. Additionally, the newly formed or activated blood vessels have a distinct appearance, which thermography can detect.
Heat is an indication that inflammation exists, and typically inflammation is present in precancerous and cancerous cells, too. (It’s also present in torn muscles and ligaments as well as arthritic joints, which thermography can also detect.) Thermography’s accuracy and reliability is remarkable, too. In the 1970s and 1980s, a great deal of research was conducted on thermography. In 1981, Michel Gautherie, Ph.D., and his colleagues reported on a 10-year study, which found that an abnormal thermogram was 10 times more significant as a future risk indicator for breast cancer than having a history of breast cancer in your family.
The most promising aspect of thermography is its ability to spot anomalies years before mammography. Using the same data from the 10-year study, researchers H. Spitalier and D. Giruaud determined that thermography alone was the first alarm in 60 percent of the cases of women who were eventually diagnosed with cancer. Since thermal imaging detects changes at the cellular level, studies suggest that this test can detect activity 8 to 10 years before any other test. This makes it unique in that it affords us the opportunity to view changes before the actual formation of the tumor. Studies have shown that by the time a tumor has grown to sufficient size to be detectable by physical examination or mammography, it has in fact been growing for about seven years achieving more than 25 doublings of the malignant cell colony. At 90 days there are two cells, at one year there are 16 cells, and at five years there are 1,048,576 cells–an amount that is still undetectable by a mammogram. (At 8 years, there are almost 4 billion cells.)
Today, women are encouraged to get a mammogram, so they can find their breast cancer as early as possible. With thermography as your regular screening tool, it’s likely that you would have the opportunity to make adjustments to your diet, beliefs and lifestyle to transform your cells before they became cancerous. Talk about true prevention.
Thermography is a particularly good choice for younger breasts, which tend to be denser. It doesn’t identify fibrocystic tissue, breast implants or scars as needing further investigation. It’s also good at detecting changes in the cells in the armpit area, an area that mammography isn’t always good at screening.
It’s Safe and It Doesn’t Hurt:
Unlike a mammogram, a thermogram doesn’t hurt! Thermography is very safe–it’s even safe for pregnant and nursing women! It’s merely an image of the heat of your body.
It’s ironic that the test women are using for prevention may be causing the very problem they’re trying to avoid in the first place! Another reason the United States Preventative Services Task Force reversed its aggressive mammogram guidelines was because of the exposure to radiation. It’s well known that excessive doses of radiation can increase your risk of cancer. And this doesn’t even touch on the harm done to the body from unnecessary biopsies, lumpectomies, mastectomies, chemotherapy, radiation treatment and so forth.
Women want to feel safe, confident and have a piece of mind when it comes to breast screening and their options.
Article by Claudia Barrington RN CCT, For more information, contact South Florida Thermography @ 954-422-8766 or visit www.sfthermography.com