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Understanding the Role of Thermography in Breast Screening

Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging, or Thermography, is the detection and study of heat patterns of the body. They help indicate normal or abnormal activity in the underlying tissue. Thermography detects the subtle physiologic changes that accompany breast pathology, whether it is cancer, fibrocystic disease, an infection or a vascular disease.

Who Can Benefit

All women can benefit from thermography breast screening. However, it is especially appropriate for younger women (30-50) whose denser breast tissue makes mammography more difficult. Women of all ages who have family history or abnormal mammogram or breast exams will benefit. This test can provide a 'clinical marker' to the doctor or mammographer that a specific area of the breast needs particularly close examination.

One day there may be a single method for the early detection of breast cancer. Until then, using a combination of methods will increase your chances of detecting cancer in an early stage. These methods include annual thermography screenings, a mammography, monthly breast self-exams and regular breast exams by a healthcare professional, personal awareness for changes in the breasts, and readiness to discuss quickly any such changes with a doctor.

It takes years for most cancers to develop to the stage that they can be detected with mammogram or ultrasound so thermography is an ideal screening tool to identify changes over time.

The Procedure

Thermal imaging of the breast (or any other part of the body), is completely noninvasive, making it safe, painless and easy. There is no radiation involved. It is and FDA registered procedure. It involves a camera specifically designed for thermal imaging of the human body in the clinic situation. The camera captures a thermal picture of body heat and displays the thermal patterns on a computer screen in the form of a digital image for analysis. The first session provides a baseline of you “Thermal signature”. Subsequent sessions assure the patterns remain unchanged.

Changes can be detected when abnormal and diseased cells produce more heat in their early development. Before the onset of most abnormal growth, suspect cells will stimulate new blood vessels to grow. Very simply, where there is more blood, there is more heat. Thermal Imaging examiners take particular note of these “hot spots” which may often be early signs of abnormal activity. This activity has been shown to begin many years before any warning signs can be shown by most other screening methods.

Preemptive Treatment with Thermal Imaging

If changes are detected in the thermal signature then we have an opportunity to intervene and change the outcome. The earlier an abnormality is detected the better the treatment options will be, resulting in a better outcome. The following images show how a thermography revealed “hot spots” in the breast area. The second image is a follow-up image of the same area one year later after the appropriate Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy.

The before picture is an initial thermal image.

The after image shows changes to the tissue in a follow-up thermography after BIHRT.

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