I’ve updated this information in a newer post. Please see Breast Thermogram – The Painless “Gram”!
How do you rate mammograms in your list of necessary evils. Are they your favorite? Your least favorite? Do you hate being squished down to the width of a heavy piece of paper SO much that you put them off for years? Or do you just grimace and bear it?
Well, guess what, Ladies! There’s a painless alternative that can flag a potential problem one to three years earlier than a mammogram*!
I had a Breast Thermogram. Have you ever heard of thermography?
Well, I had one for the first time a couple of months ago. It was painless. There was no squishing into a pancake involved. It was highly educational and very impressive.
Medical Infrared Imaging (thermography) is functional imaging.
While thermography cannot locate the exact area of suspicion inside the breast, it can detect physiological changes in the body which can then be interpreted as low risk, suspicious, keep an eye on, high risk… or, best of all, normal. Thermal imaging may provide the first signal that a problem is developing and has an average 90% sensitivity in all age groups, meaning fewer cancers go undetected, on average.*
So what happened on the day of the test? The day of the imaging, I could drink no caffeine at all. No deodorant or antiperspirant. No body lotion or other substances on the chest or underarms. No strenuous or unusual exercise 4 hours before. There were a few things more I had to be aware of, but nothing hard to do.
After my newbie orientation, I was asked to undress from the waist up and had to stand in a cool room for 15 minutes, with my arms held up over my head or down away from my body. As it turns out, it’s very tiring to hold your arms straight up over your head for several minutes at a time, so I switched back and forth. This was to lower my topical body temp so any hot spots would show up more clearly.
The tech took a series of photos with me facing six different, specific points in the room. THEN I had to put on some nitrile gloves and submerge my hands into a bowl of cold water, holding onto a big cube of frozen material for 60 seconds. This was to reduce my normal temp a few degrees more so they could read the changes in different spots.
Another series of the same six points and I was done!
Because I was curious, the tech walked me through my photos, in color showing the warm and cool spots, and a grayscale showing blood vessels.
What did they look like? Well, you know those photos showing thermal images of houses losing heat out of their roofs? And tents with people inside? This works on the same principle, only it’s looking inside your body for things that should not be giving off exaggerated heat patterns.
Inflammation and infections tend to stay warmer than regular tissue. If they stay around for long enough, blood vessels develop around them in loops. When you look at the thermal images, you see temperature grading in color. And then you see a grayscale image that shows blood vessels. In this way, doctors and technicians see potential problem spots a full year to three years EARLIER than a mammogram. Which gives you a chance to take steps before the issue has grown to something more serious; like cancer.
It’s very interesting and pain free!
The doctor in the office I went to reads the images himself. I don’t know if this is the norm, or not. It is a painstaking process and can take up to 2 weeks to get the results (I got the feeling that if they find something alarming, those readings are pushed to the head of the line for faster action.) If a followup visit is required – perhaps a mammogram, biopsy or traditional doctor visit – you’ll be advised on what to do next. I chose to follow through with the doctor who read my images.
This particular doctor is an MD, in the Western sense, who also combines traditional (in the Eastern sense), holistic methods of treating patients. This might not be typical. I just want to share my experience with you so you can have enough information to know if you want to look into it for yourself.
There are a few things you need to know:
- Most internists (your primary physician) do not know much about thermography, if they’ve heard of it at all. Which is not terrible since the images are interpreted by a specialist in the same way xrays, CAT scans, etc are interpreted by specialists and then a report of their findings is sent to your doctor. When I asked my regular doctor about it, he was aware of thermography and was happy enough with my decision as long as he didn’t have to interpret the results.
- Some insurance companies label this procedure as “experimental”. Your insurance might not cover the imaging. It cost over $200 for this test. Not a small amount, but my husband and I felt it was worth working the expense into the budget. According to the technician, many insurance companies do cover followup procedures and treatments if indicated. Check directly with your insurance company to find out how your plan works.
- Medical thermography is not just for breasts. Check your area for a thermography center and give them a call if you’re interested in checking it all out.
- There is much more to how these procedures all work. My few paragraphs here are not meant to explain everything you need to know.
- None of these procedures (mammogram, thermography, ultrasound) can diagnose cancer. They are meant only to show areas of concern. Always consult with your doctor about any test you take to protect yourself from late diagnosis of health problems!
My results came back with an area of concern that this doctor has determined is caused by a body-wide problem putting stress on my lymphatic system. I am now on a protocol for that problem AND a simultaneous breast health protocol. I’ll talk about these with you some other time. Don’t worry! I’m doing great and even losing weight in a healthy way as a wonderful side effect of the protocols! I don’t have a lot to lose, but WooHoo!!! Who doesn’t want to get back to their mean weight from their twenties or thirties? Or forties, for that matter?
Bottomline, I am very happy with my decision to go this route. Going the traditional mammogram route might have shown a problem area at this point. Possibly not yet. Either way, it would have been a lot more uncomfortable.
Here are a few, not all, of my research resources: http://www.breastthermography.com/mammography_thermography.htm
* Studies show an increase in survival rate when breast thermography and mammography are used together.