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Breast Thermography: Alternative to Mammograms?

Blogs everywhere are buzzing with word on a new type of technology designed to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages. Breast thermography, or digital infrared imaging, is being touted as the future’s replacement for traditional mammography and physical breast examinations. Some outlets have claimed that breast thermography is more accurate at detecting the early stages of breast cancer, and is more suitable to young women and the elderly. Read on to learn more about the technology behind breast thermography and if it’s really worth the hype.

Breast Thermography: What Is It?

Breast thermography is a test designed to detect breast cancer in women, much like a mammogram. But while mammograms use x-rays to find cancerous growths, breast thermography measures temperature.

Thermography itself isn’t a recent advancement. It’s used in airport screenings, house assessments, night vision cameras, and other various applications. Quite simply, thermography can be useful in detecting cancerous cells because they tend to emit more heat than non-cancerous cells. The process that makes them warmer is known as angiogenesis—that’s when new blood vessels grow into a tumor to facilitate its growth. Breast cancer cells also have a higher metabolism, which makes them warmer. Ideally, breast thermography can locate these hot spots and the patient can be put on an immediate breast cancer treatment plan.

Breast Thermography Propaganda

Although the scientific thought behind breast thermography is logical, there are simply no studies to prove that the technology is as useful as it’s being made out to be. The studies that have been cited by breast thermography advocates are rather outdated. A 1982 study by California physician Stephen A. Feig showed that mammograms detected about 72% of breast cancer occurrences in patients whereas thermography only found 39%. Overall, only about 18% of the 16,000 women surveyed described breast thermography as a positive experience.

Breast thermography is FDA-approved, and pro-thermography groups are quick to point this out. However, it should be noted that thermography was approved as an accompaniment to traditional mammograms and physical examination. Do not receive a breast thermography in place of a mammogram—there’s simply not enough proof to deem it reliable.

Breast Thermography And Implants

Breast thermography may be of use to some patients—in particular, women who have undergone breast augmentation. Breast implants are known to interfere with mammogram scanning. The physical presence of the implant may block the visual notification of breast cancer. Ruptures and leaks can also occur after a mammogram due to the pressure applied the breasts.

When considering breast augmentation, it’s important to understand the potential for future mammograms to be less clear. Women should not forgo mammograms or other physical examinations for breast cancer because they have implants. The introduction of breast thermography could be a valuable step in the detection of breast cancer in women with implants. There is no known data to support the efficiency of breast thermography and implants, but it’s logical to believe that it may be a beneficiary asset to breast cancer detection when used in addition to mammograms and physical examination.

Breast Augmentation Resources is proud to offer valuable information on breast implants, breast lifts, breast reductions, and other breast procedures. If you’d like to learn more about breast augmentation or to schedule a private consultation with a plastic surgeon in your area a>, contact our representatives today.

 

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