This week, I’m happy to offer a guest blog post about thermography, an important diagnostic tool for early detection of breast cancer by Suzy Grace Selin of BodyLife Imaging. She’s answering her top two most frequently asked questions for you about this fascinating science.
“Does Thermography Replace Mammograms…?”
This is the most frequently asked question I receive.
Usually following the question,
So… …what is thermography?”
Let me see if I can tackle both for you.
Thermography and mammography are complimentary tools in the war against breast cancer.
Thermography is known to provide the earliest sign that a cancer may be forming.
In fact, thermal scans may detect the first signs of some cancers forming years before other procedures such as mammograms.
Here’s how it works.
Cancer is all about abnormal cell growth. When cells grow they need to be fed, and they are fed by way of blood vessels. Abnormal cell growth actually calls for new blood vessels to be formed in order for those cells to be fed. Abnormal cell growth also causes abnormal heat in that area.
Here’s where thermography comes in.
Thermography uses no radiation and no body contact, but instead the camera and software read the infra-red heat radiating from the surface of the body. It notes heat patterns and vascularity patterns. Abnormal heat patterns and vascularity patterns detect a problem in process or starting.
Mammography is screening for disease that already exists.
It utilizes ionizing radiation and compression to detect structures or masses. The structure usually needs to be the size of a pea or greater to be detected. Since cancer cells double every 90 days, it can take about 8 years to grow to this size, depending on the cancer. A fine needle biopsy is generally then performed to identify the type of tissue in the structure, to determine if cancerous cells are present.
- A thermogram shows a problem happening, or starting.
- A mammogram is going to look for a structure that has grown.
- A biopsy looks at what is inside the structure to determine if it is cancerous or not.
- They all serve their purposes.
Should a woman stop getting mammograms and get thermograms instead?
That’s for every woman to decide for themselves.
Many feel that thermography is an essential addition to every woman’s health care. It is actually recommended to start thermograms at age 20 even though the standard protocol is to just have regular paps, self breast exams, and clinical breast exams.
Why not add thermography to this plan?
It is 100% safe and completely non-invasive: With no radiation and no body contact. It may detect the earliest signs that a problem is starting. And with cancer, early detection is key. Early detection allows for time—time to be proactive.
If a thermogram shows a high risk for breast cancer present, then a mammogram can then be performed to find a structure, followed by a biopsy to determine the presence of cancer.
Each procedure serves their own purpose, in their own time.
Ladies, our body is our home. Our life is a gift.
Let’s know our options and make our choices.
About Suzy: My passion is to bring awareness of the lifesaving technology of thermography and the different options we have in our health care.
I’m owner, technician, and educator at BodyLife Imaging.
Providing the greater Seattle area and Western Washington with the top technology in medical infra-red services and free community education health talks.