While most are quite familiar with mammography as a standard method of early detection for breast cancer, thermography has only recently gained traction as an added measure integral to prevention of this often fatal disease. Through predictive screening technology, thermal imaging has been credited for its ability to foresee health problems years before symptoms may manifest.
While mammograms can determine the exact location of a developed tumor, thermography is able to zero in on the blood supply, which feeds that tumor in its microscopic infancy. This test establishes an individual baseline that can then be monitored on a regular basis and continuously evaluated at subsequent stages of development.
Thermography is based on the oft-cited principle that metabolic activity and vascular circulation in pre-cancerous tissue is typically higher than that of “normal” tissue. Cancerous tumors, by definition, increase the circulation to their cells by holding open existing blood vessels, opening dormant arteries, and creating new ones, resulting in a noticeable increase in the regional surface temperature.
This is where thermal imaging comes in.
By measuring the temperature of the skin on a particular area of the body, a special, high-resolution, infrared camera is able to pinpoint “hot spots” without the use of radiation. While not a substitute for mammography, thermography—along with regular breast self-exams—can help to highlight pre-cancerous zones of interest. Those who have undergone hormone replacement therapy, as well as women who are nursing, or have large, dense or enhanced breasts, may be at a higher risk of going undiagnosed.
Beyond the Breasts
Though often spoken of in conjunction with mammograms, thermography is not limited to the breast area, and is capable of detecting abnormalities in other organs, as well. Though this process cannot identify the precise point of suspicion, it can draw attention to irregularities by recording variations in temperature.
Some of the conditions that can be detected through the use of thermography include intestinal issues, neurological system dysfunctions, cardiovascular disease, prostate abnormalities, arthritis, blood clots, immune deficiencies, adrenal problems, food sensitivities, and toxicities in teeth.
Concerning the breast area, thermography is not limited to detecting cancerous cells; it is also able to ascertain factors such as mastectomy inflammation, lymphatic load, heavy metal toxicity, and fibrocystic elements.
Contrary to a traditional mammography, during a thermography, there is no compression of the breast required, and results are digitally displayed immediately. These typically range as follows: normal, inflammatory, degenerative, rigid, blocked.
As a general rule, women above the age of 40 are advised to have both a thermography and mammography annually, more often if a history of illness exists in the family. It is important to consult with your doctor to discuss your particular medical history before scheduling an appointment.
For further information on thermography, contact the Northport Wellness Center.