Thermography:  Optimal Way to Assess Breast Health

Breast thermography (also called thermal imaging or infrared imaging) is a safe and effective screening tool that can help women detect a potentially cancerous process long before a breast cancer is diagnosed.  With a normal thermogram or thermal pattern, you can rule out breast cancer in the great majority of cases.

Breast thermography entails no ionizing radiation or direct contact.  Moreover, some oncologists are concerned that the physical pressure of mammography could rupture an existing tumor, thus causing cancer cells to metastasize. This risk is totally avoided with breast thermography.

Recent studies have demonstrated that the sensitivity of thermography far exceeds that of mammography, meaning that a normal thermogram has a smaller chance of missing cancer when compared to a normal mammogram.  A few years ago, at the Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, scientists reported published results showing 100% sensitivity for breast thermography [Source:  Madhu et al. Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2016:1062-1065.]  The superior sensitivity of thermography is due to major advancements in the resolution of thermal imaging cameras.

Nevertheless, there are some key limitations.  Even though an abnormal thermascan may reflect the presence of cancer, it lacks the specificity to show whether cancer actually exists.  This would require further testing, such as the use of ultrasound, MRI, and ultimately a tissue biopsy.

In addition, much research indicates that thermography can be effectively coupled with mammography to reduce reliance on the latter.  Finally, thermography can provide essential support for breast health assessments in younger women and others who may not benefit from mammography.

Some women may benefit greatly from a combination of thermography and mammography.  These include women over age 50, those who have more fatty tissue in the breast (i.e., less dense breasts), and those without a history of breast cancer.  Younger women with dense breasts and BRCA mutations are especially strong candidates for being monitored annually with thermography.

With an abnormal thermogram, you would then get an ultrasound in order to determine whether you have a cyst or mass of some kind.  We favor several effective, non-invasive strategies to eliminate cysts and prevent future cysts from forming.  If ultrasound reveals a mass, then a biopsy may be indicated.  If there is no cyst or mass, you can still opt for anti-cancer self-care strategies on a precautionary, proactive basis. 

For women who had breast cancer in the past, thermography is an excellent way to pick up cancerous activity far ahead of time, thus potentially helping to ward off recurrences.  With an abnormal thermal pattern, you may want to get certain cancer makers checked, as elevated blood levels may point to an increased risk of recurrence and would merit a more aggressive approach.

In short, breast thermography enables you to take charge of your long-term breast health.  As a breast health assessment tool, it can help you put a stop to the growth and progression of breast cancer long before it becomes a clinical reality.   By using tailored plant-based nutrition, botanicals, and other integrative medicine strategies, you have a better chance of clearing your body of cancer and living a long and healthy life.

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