Most women have heard of mammograms as a tool for detecting breast cancer, but few know about breast thermography. When it comes to breast cancer it is good to utilize as many diagnostic tools as possible. Every year in the U.S., It is predicted that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 will die from the disease each year in the U.S.A.. One way to alter that prediction is to routinely get checked for breast health.
Early detection is key to surviving breast cancer. The worst thing that can happen, is that you have a diagnostic exam done and the breast cancer is missed. I recommend that women do self breast exams, have a breast exam done by a professional, blood tests that measure breast cancer factors, mammograms, and breast thermography. In this article, we will focus on breast thermography and mammograms
The medical community agrees that the mammogram is the modality of choice for early detection of breast cancer. Women usually do not look forward to mammograms, because they can be painful and it exposes them to radiation. Mammograms are not perfect and should not be used alone to diagnose breast cancer. This is because the results are not always reliable. They can yield false negative or false positive results. False negative means that it says that you do not have cancer, when in actuality you do. False positive means that the mammography indicated that you do have breast cancer, when you do not. False negatives can result in you not being treated for cancer. False positives means that you can undergo chemotherapy and radiation, both of which can increase your risk of developing cancer, unnecessarily. And let's not forget the stress that goes along with falsely believing you have cancer. This is why mammography should not be used alone to detect breast cancer. Breast thermography, manual breast exams, and blood tests should also be used.
Breast thermography has been authorized by the FDA to be used as a risk assessment tool in conjunction with mammography. Unlike mammography, it is painless and does not use radiation. It works by measuring heat from the surface of your body. Tumors and cancer cells are very active and they are supplied with a dense network of blood vessels, both of which generate increased heat. Thermography can show us the increase in heat compared to the surrounding breast tissue, and alert the practitioner to investigate further.
You may want to know when testing is appropriate for you. The following is a typical testing schedule. Your health practitioner may vary it depending on your family and medical history.
Age 20: Initial thermogram- this provides a baseline to compare future scans to. If significant changes are found then further investigation is warranted.
Age 20 – 29: Thermogram every 3 years and whenever you feel a new lump (or a change in an existing lump).
Age 30 and over: Thermogram annually
Although thermography is safe and effective, there are certain factors that can make it an unreliable detection tool. The following factors can make thermography less reliable:
Very large or fibrocystic breasts
Hormone Replacement Drugs
History of breast surgery
If you fall into any of the above situations, then thermography may not be a good option.
Blood testing for such as CEA, CA-125, CA 27.29, and CA 15:3 can all be used to detect cancer activity in you body. If you do have breast cancer, these same factors can be used to assess your progress..
Breast Self Exam
Breast Self Exam (BSE) is something that you can do at home to feel for lumps. Here is a video that demonstrates how to do a BSE. If you do feel something abnormal, call your physician to schedule an evaluation immediately.
Thermography For Health is a nearby facility, that performs this type of imaging., Here is their info:
Thermography For Health
120 East 56th Street
12th Floor New York
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Camp, Eli. "Breast Thermography." Shared in personal correspondence. Aug 4, 2016.
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