Thermography — A Painless Adjunct to Mammograms

by Justice Nacarrato

Millions of women this year will endure the pain and radiation of a mammogram not realizing that they have a safe, painless, radiation free, FDA approved alternative. Thermography or as it is also called, Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging (DITI) is a technology so advanced that it is also used to detect many other physiological issues such as inflammatory breast disease which a mammogram cannot.

Thermography is a 30 year old proven technology that uses an individual’s unique heat signature to detect possible pathologies such as breast cancer. Cancer cells double in size every 90 days. Thermography can detect possible cancer at 256 cells or 2 years. A mammogram requires over 4 billion cells or 8 years to detect cancer. That gives a woman a six year head start on early detection and treatment. The key, as any doctor will advise, is early detection and intervention.

Mammography and ultrasound depend primarily on structural distinction and anatomical variation of the tumor from the surrounding breast tissue while Infrared imaging detects minute temperature variations related to vascular flow and can demonstrate abnormal vascular patterns associated with the initiation and progression of tumors.

The newest generation of equipment, such as used by Meditherm centers, measures a difference in body temperature of 1/100th of a degree. Thermography relies on the fact that every person’s heat signature is unique and that any variation in the signature may signal a pathology.

Cancer produces its own blood vessels in a process called angiogenesis. These are the “feeder” systems for cancer that rely on sugar to survive. Thermography can detect these anomalies sometimes as far in advance as 6 years before a mammogram. This gives the patient a huge jump on the disease. Additionally, thermography can detect inflammatory breast disease (IBD) when mammography cannot.

By performing thermography years before conventional mammography, a selected patient population at risk can be monitored more carefully, and thereby accurately utilize mammography or ultrasound as soon as is possible to detect the actual lesion – (once it has grown large enough and dense enough to be seen on mammographic film), can increase the patients treatment options and ultimately improve the outcome.

It is in this role that thermography provides it’s most practical benefit to the general public and to the medical profession. It is certainly an adjunct to the appropriate usage of mammography and not a competitor. In fact, thermography has the ability to identify patients at the highest risk and actually increase the effective usage of mammographic imaging procedures.

Thermography, with its non-radiation, non-contact and low-cost basis has been clearly demonstrated to be a valuable and safe early risk marker of breast pathology, and an excellent case management tool for the ongoing monitoring and treatment of breast disease when used under carefully controlled clinical protocols.

Getting a thermogram done is painless. The patient simply goes to a certified thermographer, sits in front of a thermogram camera and 5 images are taken with this specialized equipment. No pain. No radiation.
The images and patient history are electronically sent to a group of M.D.’s or thermologists who are trained to interpret the results. The results and report are returned to the patient and/or their primary care physician usually within 4 days. It is fast, painless and accurate.

Women over forty are usually told to have an annual mammogram and there are many reasons for this:

  1. Women over forty are considered at higher risk for breast cancer
  2. Breast tissue is more dense in women under forty and therefore cancer is more difficult to detect.
  3. This density of tissue means more radiation is absorbed and can actually be harmful.

Another advantage to thermography is its broad based ability to detect other pathologies that mammography cannot. These include inflammatory breast disease, coronary artery disease, deep vein thrombosis, structural problems, carpal tunnel syndrome and a host of other problems.

One day there may be a single method for the early detection of breast cancer. Until then, using a combination of methods will increase your chances of detecting cancer in an early stage. These methods include :

  • Mammography for all women who are aged 40 or older
  • Regular DITI screening for women of all ages
  • A regular breast examination by a health professional

Breast cancer has already claimed too many lives. All of us know at least one friend or relative who has suffered form this terrible disease. And though much progress is being made in available therapies, early detection is still our best chance at combating this illness.

About the Author

Justice Nacarrato has been involved in clinical work since her junior and senior high school days where she assisted her father, Dr. Hugh Smith, founder of Biocytonics,  in his blood morphology research.

She began her own practice in with her husband Brian in Washington State where they conducted a successful thermography clinic. Doctors and hospitals call upon her expertise to assist in complimentary adjuncts to mammography.

She now resides in Southern California where she carries on the family tradition in blood morphology as well as thermography.

Justice is a Certified Clinical Thermologist certified by the American College of Clinical Thermographers (ACCT). She sits on the board of the American Medical Thermology Society (AMTS) and the Camp Stix Fundraising Auction Committee as Facility Chair.

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