Women need to empower themselves about the benefits and risks of mammography and examine the additional screening tools available today. One current philosophy suggests breast health screening should begin at age 25. Where does this recommendation come from and why is this valid?
For MOST women, the recommendation for annual breast cancer screening begins at the age of 40. Unfortunately, the American Cancer Society stated that the number one cause of death in women between the ages of 40-44 is breast cancer. So what does this mean for women? It means that we screen at age 40 and potentially find tumors that have been growing for an estimated 8-10 years. Mammography, like most conventional tests, evaluates structure.
There exists a technology that can detect an issue YEARS before a tumor can be seen on X-ray or palpated during an exam. This technology has been approved by the FDA as an adjunctive screening tool since 1982 and offers NO RADIATION, NO COMPRESSION AND NO PAIN. For women who are refusing to have a mammogram or those who want clinical correlation for an existing problem, digital infrared thermal imaging may be of interest.
There are very strict protocols both for testing and interpreting. Perhaps due to these guidelines, thermography (as with all digital technology) has exploded in its technique and capabilities. Thermal cameras detect heat emitted from the body and display it as a picture on a computer monitor. These images are unique to the person and remain stable over time. It is because of these characteristics that thermal imaging is a valuable and effective screening tool. Tumors or other breast diseases measures warmer than surrounding tissue and can thereby alert a physician to a problem before a tumor is actually palpable.
Medical doctors who interpret the breast scans are board certified and endure an additional two years of training to qualify as a thermologist. Thermography is not limited by breast density and is ideal for women who have had cosmetic or reconstructive surgery. It is recommended that since cancer typically has a 15 year life span from onset to death, women begin thermographic screenings at age 25. As previously mentioned, the number one killer of women ages 40-44 is breast cancer. Therefore, a woman diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40 possibly had the cancer as early as age 30. Since most women do not have a mammogram until age 40, there is a critical time period from age 25 to 39 that thermography could be especially beneficial. Thermography, because it analyzes function, may identify a problem years earlier. DITI may allow women time and opportunity to support their immune system, change their lifestyle and give their body the best chance to alter their fate.
By combining both technologies, the detection rate increases to 95-98%, surpassing either technology as a stand-alone therapy. Thermography, like mammography, is a personal choice for women. This decision ideally should be made in collaboration between you and your physician. However, thermography does not require a physician's order.
Thermographic screening is not covered by most insurance companies but is surprisingly affordable for most people. For more information or to find a certified clinic in your area, go to www.proactivehealthonline.com.
Brenda Witt is co-owner of Proactive Health Solutions in Southern California. She is an American College of Clinical Thermology (ACCT) certified thermographer in the Orange County area.