There is a rising trend in women seeking out thermography as a means to monitor their breast health and keep an eye out for breast cancer. Some doctors believe that thermography may be helpful in monitoring younger women for breast cancer and may detect changes in breast health that warrant further investigation. If you’re familiar with breast health screening procedures, you may be wondering what the difference is between a thermogram and a mammogram. This article should clear things up for you!
Thermograms are anatomical images that utilize heat to create the picture. Basically, it is an active heat map of the body. The image generated shows color variations based on cooler and warmer parts of the body. Warmer areas of the body can correspond to blood flow as well as tissue inflammation. When monitoring for cancer, this becomes useful as it may show elevated heat levels where cancer cells have started to take root. This is because cancer, even at its earliest stages, begins to demand its own blood supply in a process called angiogenesis. When thermograms are done on a regular basis, these changes in heat patterns may be detected. However, thermograms cannot be used as a stand-alone diagnostic tool for breast cancer. It is best used in conjunction with other recommended screening tools.
So, what if a change IS detected? You will likely be referred to other specialists for more testing, such as a mammogram. Mammograms are a completely different type of imaging tool. They are used to image the structure of the breast tissue via a grayscale image. A dense area, where a cancerous lump may be, will appear white on the grayscale image. The downside to mammograms is that the dense breast tissue of younger healthy women also tends to appear white as well. This can make things more difficult for doctors when trying to interpret the images. The risks for breast cancer become greater the older people become. Currently, most women are recommended to begin getting mammograms around age 40. Before then, annual physical breast exams are the standard means of diagnostic testing, as well as the recommendations for women to perform their own monthly physical breast examination.
Thermography for Breast Health
So, what’s the potential benefit of adding thermography to the annual health routine? Thermography is non-invasive, completely safe, easy to perform. Thermographs provide an option for younger women with dense breast tissue to begin keeping track of their breast health. Some doctors recommend getting the first one done early on in your 20’s so it can be used to measure against changes that may begin to happen later on in life. When it comes to cancer, early detection is key. While thermography cannot take the place of a mammogram, adding thermography into the routine may help provide additional data on your body so that future changes are made more apparent. Consider it one more tool in the toolbox to help you stay on top of your health!
We hope that this information on thermography for monitoring breast health is useful to you.
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Cali Naughton graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington. She joined the marketing team at Empower Brokerage in the spring of 2021 as a marketing specialist and the department photographer.