Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:40
According to the CDC, breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women and is one of the top ten causes of death among women in the United States. These numbers are frightening and early and accurate detection is vital in order to catch the disease in its early stages and begin lifesaving treatment. There are different methods that are used to detect breast cancer but not all of these methods can give the early detection that is required in order to save lives. Mammography has long been thought of as being the necessary procedure for a woman to undergo in order to discover tumors and abnormalities that may be signs of the disease. Although mammography is a useful procedure, it is not the best form of early detection.
Mammography uses radiation in order to detect densities in the breast tissue that may be caused by cancerous tumors. There are however several problems with this method. One major issue that has been found with mammographies is the repeated radiation exposure. Although there are other medical procedures that utilize radiation, mammographies pose an additional threat because they use a form of radiation known as 1 Gy. This type of radiation has an ionizing effect that causes irreversible damage to the patient by causing double strand breaks of the DNA double helix. Because of this fact, this type of radiation is more likely to cause cancer. Since mammographies are recommended beginning at age 40, this is especially dangerous due to the fact it increases the cancer risk for pre-menopausal women due to hormone fluctuations.
Computerized regulation thermography also known as CRT utilizes heat emissions from the breast in order to detect early lesions that cannot be detected by mammograms. It is able to detect changes in blood flow in order to make a much earlier diagnosis. Since tumors can take several years to grow and cause density changes that can be detected by a mammogram, thermography gives the benefit of early detection by using infrared cameras to monitor subtle changes in the body's heat index which allows it to detect problems much sooner. The infrared camera used to complete the thermography procedure emits no radiation and therefore poses no cancer risk to the patient. Since many tumors can take as many as fifteen years to become detectable by mammograms, it is recommended that women begin screening using the thermography method at the age of twenty-five. When the procedure is started at this stage, there is a higher probability of early detection.
The use of thermography also decreases the chance of the patient receiving false positive/negative results that may result in unnecessary procedures being performed. The accuracy of a mammogram can be severely affected by the increased density of the breast tissue of a woman under fifty years old. This is a problem that is not encountered when using infrared imaging to complete the procedure because of the technology thermal imaging technology that is used. Since it is actually reading heat measurements in the body, the breast's density is not a factor.
Although thermography has several benefits, it certainly does not take the place of a mammogram in maintaining breast health. It is important that a woman continue to perform her own breast exams monthly and to also follow up with her physician so he or she can perform them as well. The proper line of defense to follow is monthly self-exams accompanied by physician follow-up, the use of thermography to detect early lesions, and a mammography if abnormalities have been found. In this instance the mammography can detect the exact location of the lesion in order or a biopsy to be done to rule out cancer or to begin treatment therapy. Be sure to research all options that are available and choose what is best for you. Science is continually making advances that provide excellent treatment options while still maintaining patient comfort and quality of life.
by T.R. Scott