This is the last in a series of articles on breast health awareness. I started the series with my first article, talking about the anatomy of the breast, and the lymph system. My second article was about restrictions of the breast and what we put on our skin. My third article was about nutrition and breast health. I also threw in a bit about stress in that third article. In this article, I want to make you aware of a diagnostic tool that is not well known, thermal imaging, also known as thermography; it also goes under the name of Digital Infared Imaging.
We all know about mammograms. We may not know about the dark side of mammograms, and I won’t go into them now, but I will give you a podcast you can listen to that explains quite a bit about that, (see resources below) as well as talking about another diagnostic tool that I want to talk about.
Let me give you a quick primer on thermography, so you can have a basic understanding of the technology. It is based on detecting thermal differences in the body, using digital imaging, or photography. It is based on the science that brings us heat vision goggles, and any other heat detection device. Builders can use it to find electrical problems in wiring. There are many uses, and it is not an invasive procedure. It is simply reading the temperature changes on the first 3 inches of the body.
Here is a more technical explanation:
"The use of Digital Infrared Imaging is based on the principle that metabolic activity and vascular circulation in both pre-cancerous tissue and the area surrounding a developing breast cancer is almost always higher than in normal breast tissue. In an ever-increasing need for nutrients, cancerous tumors increase circulation to their cells by holding open existing blood vessels, opening dormant vessels, and creating new ones (neoangiogenesis). This process frequently results in an increase in regional surface temperatures of the breast. DII uses ultra-sensitive medical infrared cameras and sophisticated computers to detect, analyze, and produce high-resolution images of these temperature variations. Because of DII’s extreme sensitivity, these temperature variations may be among the earliest signs of breast cancer and/or a pre-cancerous state of the breast." (breastthermography.com)
The Controversy of Thermography
There seems to be quite a bit of controversy around thermography. I have been told the medical community believes it is worthless. I think the problem comes with a misunderstanding of the claims. Mammography is a diagnostic tool with flaws, but is backed by the medical community as a tool they can use. Insurance pays for it for many people, so they trust it. If you had to pay for it yourself, you probably would not have it done, because it is very expensive. Doctors, however, know there are false positives and false negatives in this test, and only use it as a series of tests and screening tools.
Neither tool is a perfect tool, no diagnostic tool is, because we are complex bodies and hard to “scientifically” diagnose. Breast tissue is very dense tissue, so it is difficult to view with modern tools.
Understanding the Claims
I believe if you understand how it works, and the claims made, you can have a better understanding of the use of thermography, and have better knowledge to make better choices, based on fact, not emotions. Emotions are what get us into trouble when it comes to breast health and care.
Mammography works on the finding of abnormal tissue mass, thermography only deals with areas of heat and cold detection. They are simply two different approaches, equally based on science. To say that thermography isn’t science based is like saying thermometers and heat vision goggles that the military use are scams. They are simply different approaches.
Thermal imaging can even be appropriate for finding other health issues. Since it shows the image of the temperatures of various parts of your body, it is clear that it would be easy to see “hot” spots on our bodies from inflammation. Did you know that cold spots on our bodies also can tell us something? It can tell us that the blood flow may be lacking or weak. This can mean an issue that also needs to be addressed.
The science of thermography is based on the fact that increased heat in our breasts can be a sign of increased blood vessel circulation and metabolic changes associated with a tumor growth. By detecting minute variations in normal blood vessel activity, infrared imaging may find thermal signs of a pre-cancerous state of the breast, or the presence of a tumor that is not large enough to be detected by physical examination or mammography.
An Adjunct Tool
If you are a keen believer in mammography, thermography can be a great adjunct if a mammogram finds a tissue mass in your breast. Given that many of these masses end up to be cysts, having a thermography scan can show whether there is a temperature increase (possible tumor) or not (probably a cyst). This could be a huge mental relief while you are waiting for all the other tests to be done by your doctor. Even better, if you had thermography results from the past several years, you would be much more aware that this may be a cyst that you have been watching, or something you have been concerned about.
A Primary Tool
For many that refuse to do a mammogram because of the negative consequences of high level radiation being administered to a sensitive area, as well as the possibility of doing damage to the delicate breast tissue; they may be left without a tool for early prevention. The benefit of Digital Infared Imaging, is that it is fairly affordable. The typical rate is between $100 and $200. In addition, you can get a whole body scan that can give you information beyond just your breasts, which is good for finding inflammation or lack of circulation to areas of the body. These are more expensive, but still affordable.
Keep in mind that the medical world will consider this tool worthless, and insurance will not cover it. Do your research and find out if it is right for you. Just because it costs you money, does not mean it is not worth the money. There are people that undergo horrible surgeries, instead of taking proven alternative methods, just because insurance pays for it. Then they find out that their part of the deductible or their amount is much more than anything they would have spent on the alternative method. Your health is worth more than a lot of things you purchase without thinking about it.
An Important Question:
What do you do with the information?
Whatever controversy surrounds these diagnostic tools, the point is they are tools. The important thing is what you do with the information. The problem is often we are unprepared for the results.
If the results are that you simply have a cyst, or several cysts in your body, what are you going to do? Ignore them? Why do you have these cysts? What is your body telling you?
What if you have a thermogram done and you have inflammation? Perhaps it doesn’t look like breast cancer, but you still have inflammation. What are you going to do about it? Ignore it? If it isn’t a life or death issue, many of us go on our merry way.
If you have a concerning result from either a thermogram or mammogram, what is your next step? Will you just follow your doctor blindly and go through the tunnel of oncology: surgery and chemo or radiation? Will emotions make you unable to do the research you need to do to make informed decisions?
Don’t get me wrong, any decision you make for yourself, I support. I only want to make sure it's an informed decision. You need to know your options. That's why I am trying to give you the information of different diagnostic tools, so you can make informed decisions without emotion. Sometimes we need to follow our “gut”, but let it be out of fact based information, not simply fear.
When you receive your results from a thermography screening, you may not fully understand what the notes are saying, because they are being read and described by a specialist in this area. The images themselves are sent to the specialist, and the results and the notes are sent to you or your medical professional. If you have this done in an office with a chiropractor or naturopath, you can have them sit down with you and explain what the notes mean, and make some decisions of what action you may want to take. They may come up with some ideas you have not thought about, but can incorporate easily into your life.
Please, please, please, if your body is telling you something, listen! Do your research, find out what you need to do different before it comes to a serious situation. Again, health and un-health happen. I'm not trying to blame you if you have a health issue, I am simply trying to get you to be informed. This series of articles was in response to the fear campaign of breast cancer awareness month in October. I don’t want you to focus on fear of cancer, I want you to focus on actions you can take to improve the chances of breast health. I have given you a lot of information, but I have really just scratched the surface. My goal is to get you to take action now, and stick with it.
I hope I have provided you with some easy things to incorporate into your life to improve your breast health. What I want you to do now is think about the things I have mentioned that you can do right away. Perhaps you can take your bra off right when you get home, and massage your breasts, don’t worry, you can’t do it wrong. Perhaps tomorrow you can invest in a little rebounder. Tonight for dinner you may add steamed broccoli; go ahead and add that butter and salt that makes it taste so good. Do a little research on thermography. Make sure you have read all of my articles, they are on my website. Be informed so you can make good decisions on your health, but take action so you can have better health.
Girls Gone Kale website: girlsgonekale.com
My massage website: pattibealermassage.com
breasthealthproject.com or check out this video on Youtube
An online picture of Phluffing your breasts.
Bellicon.com—this is more expensive, but uses essentially bungee cords, and is very comfortable! You also need to replace the cords from time to time.
Alternative Deodorant Recipe:
For scientific research on tapping:
Podcast about thermography and mammography:
Where to get a thermogram:
In the local area:
Whole Health Chiropractic
To your health!
Patti Bealer, Health Coach IIN