As women, we are well aware of mammograms and ultrasounds. We know to do self-breast exams every month and routine screenings begin at age 40, sometimes earlier depending on family or personal history. We know to feel for lumps, bumps, pain, skin changes, and generally anything that is out of the ordinary for our breast tissue when doing our own exams.
What about including Breast Thermography?
This imaging uses a digital infrared camera to see the metabolic and circulatory activity within your breasts by relying on surface temperature. The pictures produced are color coded in that a “hot” or very active site is bright red, while a “cool” site is blue/green. Cancerous lesions require its own blood supply and nutrients to grow; therefore it promotes angiogenesis which is the growth of new blood vessels from old blood vessels just re-routed. This swarm of new blood vessels carries a degree of heat to them that show up on the breast thermography as red areas. Because angiogenesis happens early, very tiny cancerous spots or pre-cancerous conditions may be detected much sooner.
Breast Thermography does not use radiation nor does it require compression or direct contact with the breasts. It has been approved by the FDA since 1983 for the adjunct screening of breast cancer. Thermography does not look at anatomy or structure like a mammogram. It will not find an actual mass or lump but it will detect changes in breast temperature as related to angiogenesis and/or hormone shifts to the tissue. If you are considering a breast thermogram, remember it should be used in conjunction with a mammogram.