Thermograms – A Better Alternative To Mammograms

Dec 30, 2008 by

Thermograms – A Better Alternative To Mammograms

With the effectiveness and safety of mammograms coming into question, and even coming under fire, the next issue becomes – what is the alternative for women to turn to? The answer could be thermograms.

Thermograms use heat which radiates from one’s own body to detect problems in the breast, and involve a combination of advanced digital technology as well as ultra-sensitive infrared camera imaging.

When cancer cells are present, their abnormal metabolic activity increases circulation which creates patterns of heat, and thermography is used to attempt to spot these patterns.

A woman to be tested would remove her clothes above the waist, and then take about ten minutes to acclimatize to room temperature. After that, the first of two sets images of the breasts is taken. Next, the woman would be asked to place her hands in cold water for about a minute, after which a second set of images is taken. When she does this, an autonomic nervous system reflex takes place in the breast, which causes the blood vessels in normal tissue to constrict; however, blood vessels which supply cancerous tissue do not constrict. This difference in blood supply can then result in cancerous tissue showing up as “hot spots” on thermograms.

The advantages of thermograms are numerous. They do not use radiation, and thus do not harm the body in the way that mammograms do. There is no physical contact with the body, no compression used and does not cause pain.

Importantly, its accuracy from results shown in studies have been very encouraging. And, very significantly, the activity which thermograms attempt to detect already takes place long before cancer cells begin to invade new tissue. This means that a breast thermogram would be able to spot a breast abnormality 5 to 10 years before the issue can be detected using a mammogram.

What is important to note, though, is that breast thermograms do NOT diagnose breast cancer, per se. All they do is spot physiological changes in breast tissue which are associated with cancer or pre-cancerous conditions. This is similar to mammograms. Thermograms are evaluated by thermologists, who use criteria set by the American Academy of Thermology for the interpretation of data from thermograms. Full diagnosis of breast cancer is only complete with a pathologist’s microscopic examination of tissue from the breast.

Thermograms are typically conducted at thermography centers, which have been around for quite a few years now. In time to come, they will surely overtake mammograms (thankfully) as the detection tool of choice.

Read more about how thermograms are a safer alternative to mammograms at Cancer Research Information.com.

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