Ladies, have you ever felt anxious or uneasy about going to the doctor for a mammogram? You’re not alone. Many women feel uncomfortable with the procedure or the thought of potential radiation exposure. But what if there was an alternative?
Our CEO recently investigated thermography as a potential alternative to mammography. Here’s what she learned in Part One of this experience!
What is Thermography?
Thermography is a non-invasive, radiation-free technology that uses a special camera to measure the heat coming from your body. It creates a digital image that shows the temperature variations on the surface of your skin, which can reveal abnormalities or changes in the underlying tissue.
In the context of women’s healthcare, thermography is often used as an alternative to mammography for breast cancer screening. Unlike mammography, thermography does not use radiation and is completely painless. It has been FDA-approved for clinical adjunct screening purposes since 1982.
While it is not a replacement for mammography, it can be a useful tool in detecting early signs of breast cancer, sometimes years before a lump can be felt or seen on a mammogram. That’s because it can detect abnormal changes in breast tissue, which may indicate early signs of breast cancer.
Thermography vs. Mammography
Compared to mammography, which uses radiation to produce images of breast tissue, thermography is completely safe and painless. It also has the potential to detect early signs of breast cancer, sometimes years before a lump can be felt or seen on a mammogram.
While mammography is still considered the gold standard for breast cancer screening, it’s important to note that it isn’t perfect. False positives and false negatives can occur, leading to unnecessary biopsies or missed cancers. Thermography, on the other hand, can detect abnormalities in breast tissue that may not show up on a mammogram.
Dianne’s Firsthand Experience with Thermography
Unlike most doctor visits, the “pre-process do’s and don’ts” were kind of mindblowing. For example, the instructions start 3 months prior to the appointment right up to one hour beforehand. Things to avoid in the days before the screening include excess sun exposure, heavy alcohol consumption, and extensive exercise.
On the day of her scan, Dianne felt nervous anticipation, and a fair amount of curiosity. Luckily, that dissipated almost immediately!
The practitioner, Kerry Press from Thermal Imaging Centers, was warm and welcoming; the space was bright and comfortable. The first thirty minutes of the appointment involved a detailed education in thermography and an explanation of how cancer moves in the body. This time dedicated to education and understanding already set this visit apart from just about any typical medical experience!
Dianne found the practitioner to be highly knowledgeable and relatable. Kerry is a breast cancer survivor herself, who’s had a double mastectomy and deeply connects to the work. Dianne learned that through thermography, you can detect signs of breast disease up to a decade before it would show up on a mammogram!
There are three precursors to all disease, dysfunction, and cancer in the body. They are:
- Chronic inflammation
- Lymphatic congestion
- Hormone imbalance
Thermography can be used to screen for these issues long before they become serious health risks.
After the educational component, Dianne disrobed and put on a short gown that could be moved and manipulated as needed throughout the process. The practitioner started at the bottom of Dianne’s feet and worked her way all the way up to the top of the head.
The best part? There was no pain – other than being butt naked! Of course, even that wasn’t so bad, as the practitioner was very professional and kept Dianne at ease.
Dianne was surprised by what the high-powered camera could see. The practitioner was able to ask some questions based on what she saw – like about congestion or other aches and pains. She could see congestion in the back of Dianne’s neck, and the camera even showed scar tissue!
How Does it Compare to a Mammography Appointment?
You can’t even compare them! Mammogram is putting a breast in a machine and bracing for the pain of the squeeze. The appointment itself is in and out, and you get a report after the images are processed. There’s no education, no knowledge, no real human interaction.
And the biggest difference is that mammography takes place in ISOLATION. Only the breast is examined. With thermography, the practitioner looks at the breast in the context of the WHOLE body. They examine organ function, review history, and truly educate and listen.
After a mammogram, you receive a basic readout via mail -under the best circumstances – and a scary phone call to schedule a follow-up if the exam shows something bad. What happens after a thermography appointment? We’ll detail that in Part Two!
Tips or Advice for Other Women?
Since thermography is still a newer technology, it is not advised to do it in isolation. You should still do your routine mammogram. But the benefit of having alternatives available to women is priceless. You know your body best, and this is an opportunity to look at your WHOLE body and health. Dianne anticipates that her results will empower her to do just that.
The Benefit of Accessible Alternatives in Women’s Healthcare
Accessible alternatives like thermography can also benefit women who may not have access to traditional healthcare. In rural or low-income areas, mammography facilities may not be readily available or affordable. Thermography can be performed in a doctor’s office or imaging center, though it’s not typically covered by insurance just yet.
As women, it’s important to take control of our health and make informed decisions about our healthcare. While mammography is still recommended for most women, thermography may be a viable alternative for those who are uncomfortable with the procedure or have other health concerns.
Technology is constantly advancing, and it’s exciting to see new innovations that can improve women’s healthcare. By staying informed and exploring alternative options, we can ensure that we receive the best possible care for ourselves and our loved ones. Be sure to check back for Part Two: Results and Major Takeaways!