What is thermography?

thermography

As women approach menopause, fluctuating hormones can cause changes in breast tissue and it is common for lumps and bumps to appear with changes in the levels of oestrogen. Regular breast examination is the best way to get to know your breasts and monitor changes.

One option to support regular self examination or to investigate any changes is thermography.

Medical thermal imaging is an infrared technology that detects abnormal vascular activity due to its sensitivity to variations of emitted heat.  It is not diagnositc but it can preceed anatomical findings and prompt early investigation and prevention.  It does not diagnose cancer. 

Abnormal breast physiology tends to have unusual blood vessel patterns that give off more heat than the surrounding tissues and show as variations of colour on the scan.  More heat occurs in malignancies due to the increase in nitric oxide produced.  Changes of these patterns show abnormal or suspicious thermal patterns that then can be interpreted as abnormal physiology or function.

 

The Benefits of Thermography;

  1. Radiation free so you can use it safely over time.
  2. Pain free
  3. Non-contact
  4. Compression free and non-invasive.
  5. It can detect changes in breasts with dense tissues and implants.
  6. You can do it at any time of the month unlike mammograms.
  7. Detects cancer risk up to 95% accuracy.

 

How much does it cost?  Usually around £295.

Where can I book a thermogram?  There are many clinics available, here is a link to one that has different dates across the country https://medscans.co.uk/clinics/

 

How often should you have a thermogram?

The first appointment establishes a ‘baseline’ and then an annual thermogram is suggested in order to compare and monitor any changes in your physiology that can suggest a change in your breast health.

 

Drawbacks of thermography;

  1. Changes in heat can also occur due to inflammation, infection or exercise.
  2. Cannot pick up very small tumours as accurately as mammograms.
  3. Is not diagnostic of cancer.

 

What about mammograms?

A mammogram is a picture of your breast taken with a low-dose x-ray machine.

*The amount of radiation one is subjected to from a typical mammogram is .4 millisieverts (mSv). Compare that to the 3 mSv background radiation we are exposed to in our natural everyday surroundings on an annual basis. Getting a mammogram, then, is the equivalent of 7 weeks of normal everyday life.

Your breast will be placed on a flat plate called a paddle and compressed with a parallel paddle. This is done to spread out your breast tissue. An x-ray machine will produce a burst of x-ray that will pass through the breast to a detector on the opposite side. The detector captures the image on film or solid-state detector, which transmits electronic signals to a computer to form a digital image called a mammogram.

In a 2015 systematic review and a 2012 meta-analysis that each included multiple randomized trials that involved over 600,000 women from several countries, screening mammography was estimated to reduce the odds of dying of breast cancer by approximately 20 percent.

Drawbacks of mammograms;

  1. Regular exposure to radiation can increase cancer risk.
  2. It is uncomfortable.
  3. Compression of the breast between the screening plates can in itself trigger abnormal breast health which may lead to the development of cancer in itself.
  4. Mammograms can reveal noncancerous changes leading to false-positives causing anxiety, further tests and treatment that may be unnecessary.
  5. In studies, 92% overestimated the extent which mammograms could prevent death.

 

They are less reliable if you have dense breast tissue or breast implants.  Dense breast tissue appears as white on a mammogram image masking presence of tumours.

GAYLE MERCHANT

It is my passion to support people in understanding what is at the root of the health conditions that they are facing. Functional medicine hand in hand with nutritional therapy helps me unearth the reasons for ill health and the obstacles that have been preventing recovery.

I wholeheartedly believe we are a blend of our histories; our food and lifestyle choices and our genetics – in fact, we are unique walking recipes ourselves. Finding the ingredients to help you make the best version of yourself is part of my work, so you can establish a loving friendship with your body and find balance in your life.