Thermography vs Mammography

If you are a women, surely you are constantly being reminded how important it is to get regular mammograms. But are mammograms doing more harm than good? Here are some facts on mammogram:

  • Mammography cannot detect a tumour until after it has been growing for years and reaches a certain size. (It can only detect a 1cm tumour)
  • Mammography uses ionizing radiation, a known cancer-causing agent which has a cumulative effect on your body. The practice of annual mammograms, which involves taking four films of each breast, delivers about one rad (radiation absorbed dose) exposure.
  • If you’re premenopausal your breast is more sensitive to radiation, and each one rad exposure can increase your breast cancer risk by about one percent. In 10 years of screening, you can accumulate a 10 percent increased risk for each breast.
  • Mechanical compression of your breast – as well as biopsy – can dislocate and spread existing malignant cells. It is contraindicated in breast implants patients.
  • Overall sensitivity is approximately 80%-85% but is lower in younger women and in those with dense breast tissue.
  • A percentage of mammogram results present false negatives, meaning that cancer is present but goes undetected.
  • Many women under the age of 40 have dense breast tissue, which makes mammogram images especially difficult to read. The combination of exposure to radiation and false positives due to dense breast tissue in women in this age indicates that mammography can do more harm than good.

An adjunctive promising screening method is breast thermography (a.k.a. digital infrared thermal imaging), which relies on a heat-sensing infrared camera to scan for abnormalities. Its non-invasive, it’s safe, risk-free, and painless and it has a high level of accuracy when used as a tool for ruling out cancer.

Here’s how it works: Most objects-including human skin-emit a certain amount of infrared light in proportion to their temperature. Thermography uses this light to map the surface temperature of the breast. That’s important because abnormal tissue growth can raise the temperature of the area of the breast it inhabits, and show up as a hot spot in a thermogram.

A critical difference between thermography versus mammography is the ability to detect problems early enough to use preventive measures, rather than detecting disease at a stage where treatment is imminently required. With the use of thermography we can often detect cancer up to ten years in advance of when it would be picked up in a mammogram or clinical breast exam. Thermography for breast abnormalities has an average sensitivity and high specificity.

Thermograms are ideal for all women and particularly those who:

  • cannot tolerate radiation (no one should!)
  • are under age 40
  • have dense, fibrocystic or large breasts
  • have had implants or reduction surgery
  • are on hormone replacement therapy
  • are pre-menopausal, pregnant or nursing

Mammograms look for anatomical (physiological) changes in the breast such as masses or lumps. Thermograms analyse for vascular changes in the breast. Increased blood into certain regions of the body increases the heat of that region. Areas of inflammation, cancer cell formation and active infection have elevated circulation. Thermography picks up this abnormal blood supply well before the cancer gets large enough to be noticed as a lump on a breast exam.

The breasts do not normally generate much heat. Healthy breasts appear purple during a thermographic exam. This indicates very low heat levels. Red, orange, or yellow spots that appear during a breast thermograph may indicate the presence of cancer and should be analysed more closely.

Unlike mammograms, thermograms emit no harmful ionizing radiation. Thermograms use infrared technology that is completely safe. They also do not compress the breast tissue like mammograms. This compression that takes place during mammograms can cause cancer cells to break off and to create a malignant spread through the blood stream.

Early detection saves lives. Thermography for breast abnormalities has an average sensitivity and specificity of 90 percent. The thermal map of a woman’s breast is as individual as her fingerprint. Confirmed results of multi-year studies show that -

  • A suspicious finding via thermography is the single most important indicator of high risk for breast cancer – it is eight times more indicative than a first order family history of the disease.
  • A consistently abnormal thermogram translates to a 22 times higher risk of developing breast cancer.
  • An over 60 percent increased survival rate is attained when thermography is used with other breast health monitoring methods (self-exam, physician visits, and mammography).
  • An astounding 95 percent of early stage breast cancers are diagnosed when thermography is used in a multi-modal approach to detection and treatment.

Most diseases are preventable if detected early, don’t wait until the symptoms start to affect your lifestyle or threaten your lives. For more information about DITI or to make an appointment, contact us at +603-62030980 or at +603-62040160.

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