Have you ever heard of breast thermography? Even though it has been approved by the FDA since the 1980’s as an adjunct technology for use in diagnosing breast conditions, most people have actually never heard of it! Thermography means “heat picture,” and is an infrared digital image. A breast “thermogram” is a high resolution digital picture of the temperatures and the blood vessel activity in your breast tissue. Thermography provides a beautiful window to see your breast health visually and provide powerful information about potentially unwanted conditions early.
By examining the heat and blood vessel patterns in the breast tissue, a “thermologist” can identify inflammation, which is an indication that the immune system is active, as well as angiogenesis, which is a concerning activity of the blood vessels or veins in the breast. Blood vessels tend to form patterns that can indicate potential risks. These blood vessel patterns are easily identified on a thermogram and can indicate precancerous or cancerous conditions because cancer, including early stage pre-cancer, establish blood vessel growth to supply the nutrients needed to grow at an accelerated rate. This is known as neoangeogenuesis and increases the surface temperatures in the breasts which thermography can detect.
Perhaps the most awesome thing about thermal imaging is that it is radiation free, and there is no compression of the breast tissue. So it can be done at any stage of breast health without any risks. It is safe for dense and fibrocystic breast tissue, young breasts, breastfeeding breasts, breast implants and anyone under-going chemotherapy or radiation. Many women in these stages of breast health for one reason or another cannot have traditional mammography. Furthermore, a thermogram can be performed on a mastectomy, where a mammogram can no longer be done. This makes thermography a fantastic screening tool for post-cancer treatment patients who want to keep a close eye on their breast health to know as soon as possible of any recurrence.
Thermography is approved as an adjunct screening tool, which means that is should be used in conjunction with other screening methods such as mammogram or ultrasound. This is because these different screenings provide different information about the breast conditions. Mammograms and ultrasounds scan for masses in the breast tissue, while thermography as we have learned, scans for inflammation and blood vessel activity. When used together for a “well-rounded” approach to breast screening, these all provide comprehensive knowledge about the breasts. And we all know that “knowledge is power.”
When seeking a thermography clinic in your area for medical purposes, it is recommended that you look for an establishment in which both the Thermography Technician and the Interpreting Thermologist are board certified. They should provide you with information about their equipment and personnel to ensure that they are of the highest degree of certification and standards available.
This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material in this article is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health program.