Thermography: My First Breast Exam
I know you have all seen the iPad filters our kids are obsessed with. Right? You take it back after 3 minutes and have 100 rainbow photos saved on your camera roll? Before two years ago, I never realized these thermographic images can be a live saver when used as a preventative care measure.
For a long time, I have known that I needed to take preventative measures for my health as a woman maybe younger than the average 40. I am adopted and don't have any medical history, so better safe than sorry, right? I also remember my mom telling me about the tons of mammograms that she had while I was growing up and thought "there has to be another way!" (I joke, but man that sounds painful!)
About two years ago, I met a midwife at a nutrition event who was also a thermography technician and I was fascinated. In a nutshell, Thermography, or Medical Infrared Imaging, detects surface heat as a byproduct of biochemical reactions. As such, the test adds valuable physiologic information that cannot be obtained from any other imaging procedure. It is designed to be used as an additional test to a woman's regular breast health care. I immediately knew I wanted to learn more.
Medical Infrared Imaging uses infrared sensors to detect heat and increased vascularity (angiogenesis) as the byproduct of biochemical reactions. The heat is compiled into an image for computerized analysis. This functional imaging is an early detection method. Which is exactly what I was looking for. It detects physiologic changes. It cannot locate the exact area of suspicion inside the breast, which is what makes it different from a mammogram. But both find increased suspicions. Neither can diagnose cancer. A biopsy is the only test that can determine if a suspected tissue area is cancerous. To me, due to the fact this particular testing method has no side effects, it was my starting point.
And guess what? A positive infrared image represents the highest known risk factor for the existence of or future development of breast cancer – 10 times more significant than any family history of the disease. Mammography has an average 80% Sensitivity (20% of cancers not detected), in women over age 50. Sensitivity decreases in women under age 50.
And no radiation exposure in thermography. Important to me.
Okay, Jes. We get you like the alternative options, but how was the actual exam? My friend Kristin, my thermography technician, made it very comfortable for me. We did a full body scan which included head, neck, breasts, abdomen, spine, lower and upper extremities. Once the photos were sent to the physicians, three of them went over the results and formulated a report. Kristin went over the results and advised me to go over the full report with my physician, Dr. Michelle Massa. She was clear and calm.
Praise God, nothing too pressing was going on with me, but it did detect some thermal impressions which calls for me to take the next steps - a breast ultrasound, chiropractic care and lymphatic drainage therapy. Luckily, I have a great group of people in my network that can help me with this.
Summary? I am SO very glad I did this. Like most alternative care, it was not covered by insurance, but I thought for the information I took home, it was well worth the few hundred dollars. I will now get a scan done yearly, having this first one be a baseline for changes.
If you are local, please reach out to me for who I used. If not, search for your nearest provider online!
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