What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You!
by Joyce Sobotta
Many women do not know there are options for breast screening. Most accept the common path of mammography scans, but this isn’t necessarily the right choice for everyone.
A mammogram delivers X-ray radiation to very sensitive tissue in order to detect the internal anatomical structure of the breast. According to the Journal of Surgical Oncology, a breast cancer growth needs 4-10 billion cells before a mammogram can detect it. Cancer cells may double approximately every 90 days, so often a cancer has already been growing for seven to 10 years before it can be detected by a mammogram, and by then it may have spread to other parts of the body.
Additionally, as early as 1928, physicians warned about the dangers of spreading cancer cells through the compression of the mammogram. It is only logical that if there are any small, undetected tumors already developing in the breast, that painful compression could easily spread malignant cells through the circulatory and lymphatic system.
While diagnostic mammograms are helpful to evaluate known breast problems, other preventative measures can be extremely beneficial.
Overdiagnosis Often screening for early forms of breast cancer leads to overdiagnosis of pseudo- or noncancers that would not cause harm if they were left alone. These cancers tend to get treated aggressively with repeated mammography scans, undue biopsies, and unnecessary double mastectomies. According to an article from Mount Sinai Health System in the Huffington Post, “It is a misconception and not true when a woman is told that the other breast is high risk for developing cancer. There is an incredibly low, half percent, that the other healthy breast is likely to develop cancer.”
Breast Ultrasound An ultrasound may be a more accurate way to show all areas of the breast, including the area closest to the chest wall, which is hard to study with a mammogram. A breast ultrasound is used to see whether a breast lump is filled with fluid (a cyst) or if it is a solid lump. A lump that has no fluid or that has fluid with floating particles may need more tests.
For a breast ultrasound, a small handheld transducer is gently passed back and forth over the breast. A computer turns the sound waves into a picture called a sonogram or ultrasound scan. Breast ultrasound can add important information to the results of other tests such as “seeing” what is going on with breast tissue, especially if you have dense connective tissue or implants.
Thermography The benefit of Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging (DITI) is that it offers earlier detection of breast abnormalities than is possible with a self-exam, doctor exam, or mammography. Thermography works by imaging thermal patterns. A thermogram does not “see” tumors, it is a physiology test measuring subtle differences in skin temperature that can be associated with an underlying tumor or another pathology.
Thermography provides the ability to detect physiological changes in a cancer while it is still in the cellular phase, sometimes years before it is detectable with a mammogram. It offers younger women with dense breast tissue a valuable imaging tool that they can add to their regular breast health checkups, beginning with baseline imaging at age 20.
Thermography allows time to adjust diet, beliefs, and lifestyle to transform abnormal cells before they become cancerous. It can detect lymphatic congestion and hormonal imbalances as well as monitor dietary changes. In short, thermography is a tool to monitor breast health, not just a way to find disease! And there is no radiation or breast compression involved, safe for pregnant and nursing women.
Thermography is not a replacement for mammography. But for women who do not wish to undergo mammograms, it is a great option. If a body were heading in the direction of developing breast cancer, it can be extremely important to gain that knowledge before the tumor formed.
Many women do not feel well informed about their breast health options before they are forced to make a decision. It’s best to learn your options before deciding on a conclusive direction or focus.
The most important point never mentioned: breast cancer risk is largely modifiable. Only 10-15 percent of breast cancer cases are genetic, which means 85-90 percent of risk has to do with other factors such as diet, stress, environmental factors and emotions. You can take responsibility for your breast health.