Thermography, also known as Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging (DITI), uses ultra-sensitive, high resolution camera and sophisticated software to measure infrared emissions (heat) that are constantly emitting from the surface of your skin producing a colormap of your body's health.
Areas of pathology will show up as hot or cold depending on their metabolic activity. It is this asymmetry that allows us to identify suspicious areas.
As any health screening modality, thermography is not a stand-alone screening tool. It is used in addition to not as a replacement of any other screening procedure.
In order to understand thermography, we need to first understand our skin. As we all know, skin is the largest organ of the human body, it is the most visible organ yet it is the most underappreciated organ. One of the most important functions of skin is to control body's temperature, that is controlling the amount of circulation, or blood flow, in the skin. As a result, our blood vessels widen and allow heat to escape through the skin, we start sweating. On the other hand, when we need to retain heat, the blood vessels narrow and we produce less sweat. This phenomenon, called thermoregulation, is done without conscious thought and it is controlled by the autonomic nervous system.
This simplified and quick overview of skin's physiology can give us a great understanding of the core principle of thermography. That is, normal body is thermally symmetrical, thermal asymmetries can indicate problems. For example, chemical and blood vessel activity in both pre-cancerous tissue (also inflamed tissue) and the area surrounding a developing cancer is almost always higher than in the normal/healthy 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).
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, 200,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed each year in the US, making it three times more common than other gynecological cancers, and more deadly than lung cancer for women. Even more disturbing is the speed at which breast cancer rates have risen over the past 5 decades. In 1960, one in 20 women was diagnosed—but today, it is one in seven Breast cancer facts:
Facts about Mammograms
Mammograms use ionizing radiation at a relatively high dose, which can contribute to the mutations that can lead to breast cancer. You can get as much radiation from one mammogram as you would from 1,000 chest X-rays. Mammography also compresses your breasts tightly, which can lead to a dangerous spread of cancerous cells. “The premenopausal breast is highly sensitive to radiation, each 1 radiation exposure increases breast cancer risk by about 1% with a cumulative 10% increased risk for each breast over a decade’s screening.” Unfortunately, many women are completely unaware that the science simply does not back up the use of routine mammograms as a means to prevent breast cancer death. The Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews revealed that mammography breast cancer screening led to 30% over-diagnosis and overtreatment, which equates to an absolute risk increase of 0.5 percent. There’s also the risk of getting a false negative, meaning that a life-threatening cancer is missed. The New 3D Tomosynthesis (Yes, a 3D Mammogram) – This procedure exposes women to TWICE as much radiation as a standard mammogram. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/03/03/experts-say-avoid-mammograms.aspx
Breast thermogram vs. mammogram
Breast Thermography and mammography are two completely different screening modalities. Breast Thermography measures the physiology of your breasts - in other words, the tissue functioning. Mammogram is a type of structural imaging, detecting structures/lumps. In order to detect a lump on a mammogram, that lump has to grow to a certain size. This process (lump growing process) can take up to 5 - 10 years. That means that your annual mammograms can come back negative even-though there is a developing lump in your breast tissue but this structure might not be large enough to be detectable.
On the other hand, breast thermography is not looking for structures/lumps because we know that once the lump is detected, it has been growing for several years. Since breast thermography detects tissue changes, it has the ability to monitor thermal (heat) abnormalities within your breasts, even before a structural change/lump forms. These thermal abnormalities include new blood vessel formation that is typically present when a tumor is forming. Thermal (heat) asymmetries visible on your breast thermogram correspond with the physiological changes currently occurring in your body.
Moreover, regular (annual) breast health monitoring with breast thermography can provide the earliest warning signs of possible evolving pathology without having to wait for years. So don't wait, start your breast health prevention today with a breast Thermogram.