Thermography vs. Mammography: Which One Is Right for Your Breasts?

In the last decade mammograms have gotten a bad rap, and rightfully so. At 34, the only breast exams I have gotten have been done by my midwife when I was pregnant. Though my grandmother died of breast cancer at a relatively young age, I had just heard too many negative things about mammograms and I didn’t know there was another option, until now. It’s only recently that I have learned of thermography, and yet it has been around since 1956.

“Mammography has been the gold standard for years. Doctors are the most familiar with this test, and many believe that a mammogram is the best test for detecting breast cancer early. But it’s not. Studies show that a thermogram identifies precancerous or cancerous cells earlier, and produces unambiguous results, which cuts down on additional testing–and it doesn’t hurt the body. Isn’t this what women really want?” (Northrup) When looking at a mammogram vs. a thermogram, the safest option seems to be a no brainer! A thermogram can detect anomalies years before a mammography can, it provides clearer results and fewer additional tests, it is safe, and it doesn’t hurt!

Breast thermography is the use of Digital Infrared Imaging (DII), which “is based on the principle that metabolic activity and vascular circulation in both pre-cancerous tissue and the area surrounding a developing breast cancer is almost always higher than in normal breast tissue. In an ever-increasing need for nutrients, cancerous tumors increase circulation to their cells by holding open existing blood vessels, opening dormant vessels, and creating new ones. This process frequently results in an increase in regional surface temperatures of the breast. DII uses ultra-sensitive medical infrared cameras and sophisticated computers to detect, analyze, and produce high-resolution images of these temperature variations. Because of DII’s extreme sensitivity, these temperature variations may be among the earliest signs of breast cancer and/or a pre-cancerous state of the breast“(BreastThermography).

Thermography is very safe–it’s even safe for pregnant and nursing women! It’s merely an image of the heat of your body. It’s ironic that the test (a mammogram) women are using for prevention may be causing the very problem they’re trying to avoid in the first place! Another reason the United States Preventative Services Task Force reversed its aggressive mammogram guidelines was because of the exposure to radiation. It’s well known that excessive doses of radiation can increase your risk of cancer. And this doesn’t even touch on the harm done to the body from unnecessary biopsies, lumpectomies, mastectomies, chemotherapy, radiation treatment and so forth”(Northrup).

A mammogram is essentially an x-ray of the breasts. According to Dr. Anthony Carrino, “a basic mammogram exposes a person to as much radiation as 500 chest x-rays!” In fact, “The National Cancer Institute released evidence that, among women under 35, mammography could cause 75 cases of breast cancer for every 15 it identifies“(Prate). “Radiation can cause breast cancer in women, and the risk is proportional to dose. The younger the woman at the time of exposure, the greater her lifetime risk for breast cancer”(Prate). What’s scary about this is that the earlier cancer is detected, the better the chance of making a full recovery, yet it’s also your biggest risk for getting cancer if you choose to undergo a mammogram.

On top of the fact that exposing yourself to a mammogram means that you are exposing yourself to radiation, you are also setting yourself up for false results. False results mean more radiation and/or invasive procedures, such as biopsies, that weren’t necessary in the first place. According to the National Cancer Institute, “Overall, screening mammograms miss up to 20 percent of breast cancers that are present at the time of screening.” These misses are what constitutes false-negative results. False-positive results are when it is determined that a mammogram shows something abnormal and yet there is no cancer. “Researchers found that more than half of women who start getting annual mammograms in their forties can expect to have a false positive, being called back in for additional screening”(Freeman). So, according to the stats presented above, between the false-negatives and the false-positives, over 80% of mammograms provide wrong information!

Eating right and keeping your exposure to toxins (like lawn chemicals, cleaning products and chemicals used on many fabrics of clothing and furniture) at a minimum is important to preventing many types of cancers. It’s also important to be able to detect these cancers at an early stage, and breast cancer is one type that can be easier to detect in a non-intrusive and safe manner if you know how to give yourself regular breast exams and are aware of thermography. I like knowing that I have a safe option to detect any abnormalities rather than no option, as I wasn’t about to ever get a mammogram!

Works Cited

BreastThermography. Web. February 13, 2012.

Carrino, Anthony D.C. Personal Interview. February 2012.

Freeman, David W. Breast Cancer Studies Spotlight “False Positive” Mammograms, Digital Scans. Health Pop, CBS News. October 17, 2011. Web. February 13, 2012.

National Cancer Institute. Mammograms. Web. February 13, 2012.

Northrup, Christine. MD. The Best Breast Test: The Promise of Thermography. HUFF POST Healthy Living. October 10, 2010. Web. February 13, 2012.

Prate, Dawn. Mammograms Cause Breast Cancer (and Other Cancer Facts you Probably Never Knew). Natural News. August 15, 2005. Web. February 13, 2012.

About Raising Natural Kids

A mother of two looking to raise awareness about the everyday issues that parents face, focusing on raising children holistically.
This entry was posted in Breast Cancer, Thermography and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Thermography vs. Mammography: Which One Is Right for Your Breasts?

  1. Cinnamon Aston says:

    Wow this is excellent information I will be sharing with every woman I know. I was glad when they backed down on those screening guidelines, but still hate the thought that women are routinely exposed to radiation. I just have one question, why is Thermography less frequently used? My guess is it’s more expensive, so I wonder how women can get their health insurance to cover it. Just throwing that out there in case anyone has more information.

  2. Mary says:

    It isn`t used because of two major roadblocks: no insurance coverage and, at least here in Canada, it costs $120 to have one done. Secondly, the generalists do not know how to interpret the report. I had one done 4 years ago and my GP said he wasn`t train in interpreting what the report was telling him. I agree that it would be a great alternative if we can push to have more training for its interpretation. BTW, my thermography indicated an area of my breast with higher body heat and since then, I have been diagnosed with an early breast cancer through the regular process.

  3. lw says:

    Good article, there are photos that illustrate the changes in the breast, website is a integrative medical clinic that does breast thermography.

  4. Leah S says:

    this information is false and dangerous

    thermograms are *not* a substitute for mammograms, and miss many cases of breast cancer that mammograms detect:

    also mammograms do *not* cause breast cancer. however they are very successful at detecting cancer in its earliest stages, thus saving lives.

    • Hi Leah. As Per Dr. Anthony Carrino, “Of course Thermography is not Mammography. Thermography also does not take the place of Mammography. They are two completely different tests. A Mammogram is a anatomical evaluation that scans for abnormalities of the breast and surrounding anatomy. Thermography is a physiological evaluation that scans for temperature symmetry throughout the breast and surrounding regions. Once the asymmetry in temperature is found further investigation through ultrasound and even Mammography is utilized. Thermography is looking at one of the earliest signs of breast pathology, cellular inflammation, something that is present before cancer cells manifest and congregate to form a tumor. There are no health risks associated withThermography as it is merely evaluating body temperature using a digital infrared scanning device. It can be used multiple times over and in younger women who are not qualified to have a mammogram. All the misinformation about safer scanning technologies came out after the federal government performed a review of the literature for the safety and efficacy of use of Mammograms and found some significant results suggesting that for the age group between forty an fifty there were no benefits and that radiation exposure in this age group may actually increase the risk of breast cancer. It also showed that most of the literature was substandard and had been hidden by the “business of Mammography.” The government task force change all mammography guidelines and now advises NO screening for women before the age of 50. Mammograms were also found to have high rates of false positives leading to thousands of unnecessary procedures with 75% of all lumpectomies benign.”

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