I must go on record about my feelings regarding mammography. I was a card-carrying believer in the benefits of mammography until recently when a quirky realization hit my squarely in the face: the mammogram results in no way assist us with prevention, do they? We may be able to diagnose breast cancer earlier, but it is still there. So many patients are sent back repeatedly for additional views and six month follow-ups for “stability” of a finding, that I am seriously concerned about the radiation we are exposing our breasts to year after year. Granted, the doses are small, but they’re also cumulative.
Enter thermography – a diagnostic technique utilizing an infrared camera to measure temperature variations on the body’s surface, thereby diagnosing breast cancer without radiation. My colleague and friend, Phillip Getson, D.O., is a Cherry Hill, NJ physician and authority on this safe, effective technique, and here are his words on the subject:
- Breast thermography has increased eight fold in the past ten years.
- 70% of all breast cancers are found in clinical self-examination.
- The number one of cause of breast cancer is radiation.
- Mammography has an inherent 15-20% false negative result.
So what is thermography? It is a diagnostic test in which an individual stands two to three feet from an infrared camera that images the heat patterns of the breast. These images then are transferred electronically to a laptop computer where highly sophisticated images are formed in color and black and white. This allows the interpreter to look at vascular patterns, their configuration and placement, as well as heat patterns from one breast to the other to determine whether physiological abnormalities exist. Whereas other tests, including mammography, ultrasound and MRI are anatomic tests, which means they look for masses or lesions, thermography is a physiologic study looking for changes in the activity of the breast suggesting abnormality.
If you haven’t tired thermography, ask your healthcare provider about it.