A Nurse's Perspective: Mammography vs. Thermography

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Risk Assessing Thermal Imaging or RATI is a procedure that looks for thermal findings that are consistent with developing cancer. Thermograms study the thermal activity associated with physiology and function. The severity of a cancer is dependent on cellular activity and function rather than size.

At my annual visit with my physician, I discussed with her how I am disillusioned with mammography. I have had two breast biopsies in the last two years, with a third recommended. Okay, so do it, you say. My issue is, I had a breast reduction a few years back, and my body is making scar tissue. Every time I have a mammogram, they want to do more intense diagnostic mammography. Okay, so do it, you say. More radiation, I say. Then, they want to biopsy because mammography is not conclusive enough and neither is an ultrasound. Mammograms and ultrasounds study anatomy and structure that you see with masses and calcifications of what's already there. Breast cancers can take years to grow large enough to be detected by mammography.

My physician tells me many of her patients are not getting mammography for screening, but choosing thermography. For someone like me who has a history of breast surgery, and is likely to produce images on the mammography or ultrasound screen, this may be a sound option because scar tissue will not look like a cancerous growth. For women who are concerned about radiation risk, this is also an option, as a first line screening. If anything is suspect on a thermography report though, most likely the next step would be mammography and MRI.

Presently, mammography is the standard of practice for breast cancer screening. My physician, and a growing number of others are beginning to respect thermography, as it will monitor changes in breast tissue .Proponents believe it can look for potential risk factors such as lymphatic congestion, too much stimulation from estrogen, and inflammation. This may aide in the earliest detection of cancer. Other areas of the body can be scanned for problems and risk factors as well. The cost is not prohibitive, but check that your insurance company covers it. Also thermography has been approved by the FDA since 1982 as a screening tool.


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