Thursday, March 8, 2012

Breast Exams Without the Squeeze

If you think you are doomed to dreadful breast exams as the only way to keep tabs on your breasts think again.

The current traditional tools for assessing breast health include mammography, ultrasound, self breast exam and MRI. These tests look for structural changes or lumps in the breast tissue.

An emerging method for assessing breast health is thermography (digital infrared imaging). It is used to monitor the function of breast tissue, by detecting heat differences between normal breast tissue and problem areas. This tests provides the earliest evidence of breast disease. The sensitivity rate is 90%. This means in 90% of cases, the scan will accurately indicate a presence or absence of disease. Yes you read that correctly. A thermogram of your breasts will detect functional changes in the tissue 5-8 years before a mass can be large enough to be seen with mammography or ultrasound (1). Just to be clear: An abnormal thermogram will occur before an abnormal mammogram. Does this sound like better prevention to you? I sure think so!

An example of a breast thermogram
Thermology reports are graded from TH-1 (normal) to TH-5 (severly abnormal). These numbers do not relate to the numbering system to grade breast cancer. The numbers provide an objective means of evaluating features of risk related to malignant disease and indicate whether follow up with an ultrasound or mammogram are needed.

I think it is important for women to know that they have options and that thermography provides a very safe, and accurate assessment of overall breast health. There is no radiation and it won't squeeze your boobs to bits. 
Thermography does not replace standard detection methods, but when used as a multi-modal approach (clinical examination, thermography, mammography), peer reviewed studies have shown that 95% of early stage breast cancers can be detected!


I read a very interesting article by Dr. Sherri Tenpenny (Natural News, March 2011), entitled The Myth of the Normal Mammogram, and she raised some very valuable points about how we think about getting the annual mammogram.

"Because screening does not detect all cancers and does not detect all cancers sufficiently early to permit cure, screening should not be thought of as a method to reassure someone she does not have cancer."

Many women have been led to believe that having their regular mammogram means they won't get cancer because it will detect it early enough. And ladies, please understand that a normal mammogram does not mean you are free from malignant disease. It can take up to 9 years for the fastest growing cancers to be detected by a mammogram. What if your scan is normal and it is year eight?

Perhaps mammograms don't do a good job at prevention. It is after all a dose of radiation promoted as something good for your health. A mammogram is simply a measuring tool to assess if you have cancer.
Thermal imaging can be a valuable early risk assessment tool that is indispensable to a woman’s health. "Early detection" should be redefined as a step to restore unhealthy breasts back to wellness. I believe thermography is the missing step to prevention and it is time to put this technology in its rightful place as an added screening tool for women and for breast health.

References:
1. Cancer Care Ontario, www.cancercare.on.ca
2. Tenpenny, Dr. Sherri. The Myth of the Normal Mammogram. Natural News, March 2011

1 comment:

Joyce said...

So glad I took the step to Thermography. Now I have to convince my friends!