When it comes to breast cancer, most people wonder what they could’ve done to prevent the development of tumors. The answer is simple: receiving annual breast screenings and performing monthly self-breast exams. Fortunately, self-breast exams are extremely easy and can be done within the comfort of one’s own home. But, while breast screenings are widely accessible, many women don’t take advantage of them to monitor their breast health. As a matter of fact, only 67% of women report receiving a mammogram within the last two years. With one in eight woman being diagnosed with breast cancer, it can be presumed that more women would be eager to receive a screening, however there are many reasons why they avoid their mammogram appointments.
Mammograms are conventional X-Rays that are used by most medical facilities to detect breast cancer. It is only recommended that women between the ages of 45 and 54 annually receive one, while those who are between the ages of 40 and 44 have the option to begin screening. The issue with this is that about one-third of all breast cancer cases occur in women under the age of 45. Additionally, breast cancer can be present in women in their late 20s and early 30s. Secondly, mammograms are often avoided by women due to their invasive compression of the breast along with its use of radiation, which can increase breast cancer risks. That’s why LifeWorks recommends patients to a thermography clinic.
What is a Thermography?
A thermography (or thermal imaging) is an alternative form of breast screening that uses an infrared camera to measure body temperature and blood flow in tissues. The device does not make any contact with the patient’s breasts nor does it release any radiation. The procedure was first documented in 400 B.C by the famous Greek physician, Hippocrates when he explained that one’s body temperature might be an indication of a potential disease in certain areas. When using it for a breast screening, it captures temperature data from a patient’s breast tissue and has the ability to detect a sign of cancer about ten years before it develops. This is because breast cancer cells have an increased metabolic activity and angiogenesis. When a tumor forms, the cancer cells simultaneously grow, and when this happens, the cells require additional blood flow to multiply. This causes the affected areas to become warmer and, the tumor will appear as a direct hot spot in thermal images.
When Should Women Receive a Thermogram?
At LifeWorks Wellness Center, we highly encourage women to begin receiving thermography scans around the age of 20. During the initial year, women need to establish a baseline thermographic pattern in order to accurately detect the possibility of a breast cancer tumor. After completing the first appointment, it is recommended to receive another one within the span of three to six months after the initial procedure. After these two appointments, women can proceed to receive one on an annual basis.
Before the Appointment
For several days prior to the appointment, patients will be instructed to avoid tanning beds or prolonged exposure to the sun in order to maintain a cooler body temperature for a proper screen. On the day of the appointment, patients should avoid using any deodorant, lotions, creams, cosmetics or perfumes on any part of the body. Teeth and gums should be lightly brushed. All I-Therm, Pulsed Magnetic Field Therapy (PEMF), and chiropractic treatments should be scheduled following one’s thermogram. It is also recommended that all patients shave all necessary areas the day before the scheduled procedure. Two hours prior to the appointment, patients should avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol, smoking or exercising. Additionally, women should wear loose clothing and avoid wearing any tight bras or bras with underwire.
What to Expect
At a breast thermography, patients will undress from the waist up. All jewelry should be removed with long hair pinned up. Patients will change into a lightweight gown in order to accommodate to the room temperature. It may take a few minutes for the body to reach cool thermal temperatures, therefore a thermographer will review the patient’s medical history. Patients will be instructed to either stand or sit about six to eight feet away from the camera and place their hands behind their head. As a whole, the procedure should last between 15 to 45 minutes depending on how long it takes for one’s body to cool.
When to Expect Results
It usually takes approximately two business days for a full color-printed report to be available to patients, however when they receive that report entirely depends on the clinic that performed the procedure. Some facilities may email results to patients, meanwhile others may mail them or call the patient directly. LifeWorks Wellness Center usually refers breast cancer patients to Greenpoint Thermography, where they will ask the patients how they wish to receive their results. Greenpoint can also mail a copy of the results to your practitioner if you provide their details.
Considering a Thermography?
At LifeWorks, breast cancer patients may be required to frequently receive thermography’s in order to track their treatment progress. Those without a diagnosis but with family history of breast cancer will still need to have annual thermograms as a form of prevention. For those interested in a thermography and either have breast cancer or have family history of it, please schedule an appointment with a LifeWorks cancer specialist at 727-466-6789.