by Donna Marie Scippa
Thermography, or Medical Infrared Imaging, is a painless, non-invasive and inexpensive breast scan approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for women of any age. Research suggests that breast cancer survival rests upon the earliest possible detection. When discovered early, 95 percent cure rates are possible, making breast thermography an essential part of risk assessment and early detection.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
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 humans 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. This is the beautiful thing about thermography—it is capable of picking up these early signs while giving us 90 percent 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, M.D., board-certified OB/GYN and author and strong advocate of thermography, states in a 2010 article in the Huffington Post, “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…”
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
The inclusion of Thermography in breast cancer awareness and prevention plans is essential. It helps differentiate high-risk women, detects 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 20s, 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 overemphasized. In this day and age we need to be as proactive as possible in order to finally stop breast cancer from being so prevalent. 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 year,s based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is passionate about integrative therapies for women’s health and the value of thermography as a breast health screening tool.
Neck Back & Beyond, an integrated wellness center in Fairfax, is offering a Fall Thermography Clinic from October 19 to 22, as well as a one-hour Info Session at 8:30 a.m. and noon on October 13. To learn more or to set up an appointment or register, call at 703-865-5690 or email NeckBackAndBeyond@gmail.com, or visit NeckBackAndBeyond.com for more information.