Thermography (Thermographic Imaging) for Early Detection of Breast Cancer
Last week a close friend of mine told me she was suffering from jaw pain and said it was probably stress related. Only the following day did she confide to me that she had been fearfully awaiting the results from a repeat breast exam, thus the reason for her anxiety.
Today mammograms and breast checks can detect breast cancer at an early stage and save lives. When discovered early there is a 100% survival rate (stage 0 and stage 1.)1 Unfortunately everyone knows that if, G-d forbid, one does get a positive result, it normally means going straight for medical treatment for breast cancer including possible surgery, radiation and chemo. It's no wonder a woman is under great emotional strain when she is called back for further testing.
Perhaps one day there will be a test that will be able to identify the potential for breast cancer before it actually develops – so that if one receives a positive result, there will still be time to prevent the cancer from developing rather then immediately having no choice but to begin difficult cancer treatments.
Well – the future is here! It is called Thermographic Imaging of the breast.
Thermographic Imaging, also known as Thermography, is a noninvasive, safe test (there is no exposure to radiation) that can detect breast cancer up to 10 years before the cancer develops!
How does it work?
In order for a cancer to grow it needs a blood supply. The potential tumor causes a process called Angiogenesis which is the creation of blood vessels to the area of a cancer. Without a blood supply the cancer would not have the nutrients it needs to grow. The increase in blood supply to feed a breast tumor causes the temperature of the surface of the breast to increase. In addition, the increased cellular activity, where a tumor may be developing, also emits more heat.
Thermographic Imaging of the breast detects the heat that is emitted from the breast. In those areas of the breast where a potential cancer may be developing, the increased heat from increased cellular activity will be reflected on the thermogram. The areas where there is an increased blood supply will also show up on the thermogram.
In healthy breasts there will be a symmetrical heat pattern on both breasts, but if there is more vascular and/or cellular activity due to potential cancer cells on one breast, this can show up as thermal asymmetry on the thermogram.
Thermgraphic Imaging of the breast has 5 different risk ratings, where 1 is the lowest risk rating and 5 is the highest for developing cancer. If the Thermography results show a low risk rate, it will be recommended to just return for a routine Thermography of the breasts to check for any changes.
If results are a higher risk rate, then recommendations will be for further medical testing to evaluate a possible existence of a tumor.
What can be done to prevent cancer?
If a risk rating is high (4 or 5) and there is no existing tumor, recommendations will be made to try to prevent or inhibit the development of cancer through various lifestyle changes. These include diet, exercise, reducing stress and avoiding toxins.
Some women are more sensitive to estrogen and are at a greater risk of developing a tumor that is estrogen sensitive - a tumor that is more likely to grow in a high-estrogen environment. It is important for these women to remove estrogen and estrogen imitators. For example, certain plastic containers we store our food in are made up of molecules that are very similar in structure to the estrogen molecule. These molecules may leach into the food and the body can mistake these as estrogen molecules. Estrogen mimickers may contribute to the development of an estrogen sensitive tumor. 2
Another example of environmental factors that may be may be causing breast cancer are preservatives called parabens that are found in almost all of our skin care and hair products. Research shows that parabens are found in breast cancer tumors – causing researchers to fear that parabens may be causing certain types of breast cancer tumors.3 This is yet another substance a woman who has a high risk rate would want to avoid.
This is just some of the info women, who are trying to prevent breast cancer, will have to take into consideration as they change their lifestyles for prevention.
Of course it would be best if everyone adopted these lifestyle changes to prevent not only cancer but other illnesses as well, but most of us need a red light warning to make these changes. At least with Thermography we get that warning and have time to make those changes.
The test itself
The test is done at a clinic that has Thermographic Imaging. The breasts are photographed behind a curtain. There is no need for any physical contact.
You will first need to wait 15 minutes bare chested to adjust to the temperature of the room. You are either alone or can bring a companion with you. I recommend bringing a book to read while waiting
The test itself takes only a few minutes. Results are analyzed and later sent.
Thermography in Israel
At this time Thermographic Imaging of the breasts is only available privately.
This can be done at the Institute of Thermographic Imaging in Herzelia, under the direction Dr. Ami Eyal, Thermologist
71 Hanadiv St.
I can't emphasize enough the importance of doing this test once a year to safeguard your health. Ask any woman who has undergone cancer treatments if it is worth paying today to possibly prevent treatments tomorrow.
Mammograms have recently made the news due to the publication last month of the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force's change in guidelines for routine screening for breast cancer.4 Based on analysis of existing trials that looked at how mammography screening effected breast cancer related deaths, the task force now recommends that women only over the age of 50 be routinely screened every 2 years. This is a great change from the guidelines that recommended women be screened from the age of 40.
This has caused a great rift in the medical world. Many doctors feel that having routine mammograms from age 40 can save the lives of many women due to early detection. On the other hand there are those who feel that the danger of being exposed to radiation for those extra 10 years can be more harmful and may increase the chances of a woman developing cancer.
Much of the arguments against routine Mammograms are based on an analysis report published by two Swedish researchers in the prestigious British medical journal Lancet in 2001.5
Mammography was created in Sweden and this country has the longest recorded data on which the researchers based their analysis. Their conclusion was that there is virtually no benefit from mammograms for women under the age of 55.
Screening for breast cancer with mammography is unjustified. If the Swedish trials are judged to be unbiased, the data show that for every 1000 women screened biennially throughout 12 years, one breast-cancer death is avoided whereas the total number of deaths is increased by six. If the Swedish trials (apart from the Malmö trial) are judged to be blased, there is no reliable evidence that screening decreases breast-cancer mortality.
How are woman to decide when to begin having routine mammograms and how often to have a routine mammogram with this conflict in information? Adding thermography Imaging to a woman's routine screening is the perfect way to cover all the bases.
Can you really rely on a mammogram?
Last month two clients who came to me for Reflexology had just discovered they had breast cancer.
The first woman had routine mammograms twice a year (due to lumpy breast tissue). She had her last mammogram 5 months earlier, but there was no detection of breast cancer. She ended up discovering a lump herself and is now undergoing radiation therapy.
My second client had a mammogram a year earlier. Once her breast cancer was discovered, the doctors went back to look at her mammogram and realized that the cancer was evident, but her mammogram was analyzed incorrectly.
So – do you really want to only rely only on a mammogram to detect breast cancer?
Hopefully in the future Thermographic Imaging of the breast will be a routine test, covered by insurance and available in hospitals. In fact, one of the clients mentioned above, after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, was tested at one of the hospitals in Israel with Thermographic Imaging to test the validity of this type of screening for detecting breast cancer. The test did show that she had high risk rate for cancer – but unfortunately for her it was too late to do something about it. She underwent surgery and is about to begin a very intense protocol of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Please don't wait until Thermographic Imaging of the breast will be covered by your insurance. Pay for it privately and make an appointment today. This is one test where time is really of the essence to save lives.
Special thanks to Dr. Ami Eyal, who patiently answered all of my many questions.
Written by Oran Aviv – Dec. 2009
1These statistics are from the American College of Surgeons National Cancer Data Base and are based on patients diagnosed from 1995-1998. These figures represent a five or more year survival rate of breast cancer. Death may have occurred from another cause.
2Cornell University program on Breast Cancer and Environmental Risk Factorshttp://envirocancer.cornell.edu/research/endocrine/videos/plastics.cfm
3Concentrations of parabens in human breast tumours. P. D. Darbre 1 *, A. Aljarrah 2, W. R. Miller 2, N. G. Coldham 3, M. J. Sauer 4, G. S. Pope 1, Journal of Applied Toxicology
Volume 24 Issue 1, Pages 5 - 13
4Summary of Recommendations
The USPSTF recommends biennial screening mammography for women aged 50 to 74 years.
Grade: B recommendation.
The decision to start regular, biennial screening mammography before the age of 50 years should be an individual one and take patient context into account, including the patient's values regarding specific benefits and harms. http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/USpstf/uspsbrca.htm
5Cochrane review on screening for breast cancer with mammography.Olsen O, Gøtzsche PC.. Lancet 2001; 358: 1340-42.http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(99)06065-1/abstract