Are You Making An Informed Decision Regarding Breast Health?

By Linda Weber Spradling

A recent study by Southampton University researchers has found that too many screening programs, including mammograms, lead to misdiagnosed results and the overtreatment of harmless breast lumps. Women need to understand the negative effects of some screening and have a better understanding of the risks of unnecessary treatment before they are screened. Women should also be given the option to choose the method of screening they prefer – whether that is mammogram, ultrasound, thermography, or a combination of these procedures.

A breast cancer tumor is only detected by a mammogram after it has grown for several years and achieved more than 25 doublings of the malignant cell colony. Mammograms and ultrasounds look at anatomical changes in the breast and detect lumps or masses in the breast tissue. Thermograms look at vascular changes in the breast as they detect blood flow patterns, inflammation and asymmetries, which allow them to detect irregular patterns in the breast before a noticeable lump is formed. In the case of inflammatory cancer, there are no detectable lumps. Thermography will certainly help in these cases with early detection.

What is Medical Thermography? Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging (DITI) is a highly sensitive and totally non-invasive clinical imaging procedure for objectively detecting and monitoring many injuries and conditions.
How does it work? Because the human body is thermally symmetrical we can use comparative views, left to right to detect physiological dysfunction. Thermography only records skin surface temperature. The findings are produced by a sympathetic response processed through the central nervous system. There is no direct conduction of heat or cold to the skin surface.

What does it detect? Thermography does not ‘see’ structure or anatomy, but is does show objective results relating to the physiology of pain, pathology, injury, and dysfunction in any area of the body. Thermograms provide an early diagnosis and treatment assistance in cancer, inflammatory issues, neurological or vascular dysfunction, and lymphatic activity. DITI can assess heart function and detect inflammation in the carotid arteries, as well as thyroid dysfunction, arthritis, dental issues, sinus issues, immune dysfunction, digestive disorders, and many other conditions.

Do I still get a mammogram? Screening thermography has the opportunity to detect changes at any stage in the development from the first year through to when a tumor has established and is dense enough to be seen with mammography. This early indication can lead to earlier diagnosis and better treatment options. Guidelines for breast cancer calls for a combination of methods to increase your chances of early detection including thermography, mammography (when considered appropriate for women who are aged 50 or older) or ultra-sound, a regular breast exam by a health professional, monthly breast self-examinations, personal awareness of changes in breasts, and readiness to discuss quickly any such changes with a doctor.

Because pre-menopausal breast tissue is denser and more vascular than post menopausal breast tissue, any pathology taking place will have a better vascular supply and there will be increased cell changes and faster development of pathology in the younger women. The disadvantage with mammography is that with radiographically dense breasts it is difficult to differentiate between normal and abnormal density in the early stages of pathology. (It is also necessary to use more radiation). The five views necessary for a thermographic breast study provide the findings to evaluate, brachial plexus, lymph in axilla, sternum and below the breast, and vascular activity throughout the breasts and surrounding regions. The findings are not restricted to just tissue that can be compressed for mammography.

Is thermography covered by insurance? In some areas of the country thermography is covered. If your insurance does cover it, however, you must file the claim for reimbursement.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, contact Medical Thermography of Metro St. Louis at 314-566-0350 or 618-806-5220. Visit their web site at www.MedicalThermography-stl.com.