The American public is becoming increasingly concerned about the dangers of ionizing radiation from mammograms. This is no small concern since radiation is well known to damage DNA. One researcher estimates that 77% of current breast cancers stem from mammograms. Because the most vulnerable DNA is the DNA in dividing cells, women who are at the highest risk of developing breast cancer from mammograms are those who followed the old screening guidelines. Those guidelines recommended a “baseline” mammogram between the ages of 35 and 40, followed by repeats every one to two years (depending on which medical organization’s recommendations were being followed). Fortunately, following a review of all the available evidence, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force changed the guidelines a few years ago. Way too many women were undergoing additional targeted mammograms (more radiation) to follow up on false-positive screening tests, way too many were undergoing biopsies, and way too many were having their breasts removed for conditions that would not have killed them.
Aside from the damage CAUSED by mammograms, another important consideration in breast cancer screening is the lead time of detection. Mammography is a REACTIVE approach to breast cancer. Once a tumor is large enough (estimated to be 4 billion cells large) to show up on a mammogram, and is confirmed to be cancerous on biopsy, it’s too late to prevent cancer. Now you are trying to prevent death.
Fortunately, women have another option: Thermography. Unlike the x-ray machines used to create mammograms, a thermographic camera does not damage DNA in breast cells. In fact, it does nothing at all to the breast tissue. The infrared camera makes tens of thousands of detailed measurements of skin temperature at a distance of five to eight feet (no squishing necessary). The camera records differences of fractions of a degree in temperature between different parts of the breast. The doctor (thermologist) who reads the images identifies specific heat patterns that correlate with suspiciously increased metabolic activity in the breast. Because abnormal metabolic activity and abnormal blood vessel development are known to precede the formation of a diagnosable tumor by up to ten years, this makes thermography a welcome option for those who prefer to take a PROACTIVE approach to breast cancer. Abnormalities thus detected early on can be addressed with measures known to disfavor the development of breast cancer. Follow-up thermograms can demonstrate whether these interventions are reversing the abnormalities or require more aggressive evaluation and treatment.
Like a mammogram, a thermogram cannot actually diagnose a tumor (diagnosis requires a biopsy). It can only suggest the presence of concerning abnormalities. Unlike a mammogram, a thermogram:
• is safe, easy, and pain free
• involves no radiation exposure
• differentiates between fibrocystic breast changes and tumors
• requires no breast compression
• detects changes in breast tissue that accompany the smallest of tumors
• can image the entire breast (including the area closest to the armpit)
• is useful for evaluating the chest wall for persistence of abnormalities after breast removal surgery
• is effective for breasts of all sizes
• effectively and safely screens breasts with implants, without causing risk of rupture
• creates opportunities for early intervention
Breast thermography is offered in Moab at the Grand County Wellness Center every other month. Call 435-259-4466 to schedule an appointment. For those who are seen in our Springville office, call (801) 885-4616 for an appointment.
*The information contained on this website is educational in nature and is provided only as general information. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to represent that thermography is used to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Individuals should seek the advice of a qualified physician to discuss their particular circumstances.