Breast health is a major concern in our modern society.
The statistics for cancer are alarming: 1 in 8 women is diagnosed.
The medical community declares early detection saves lives.
There is an FDA approved technology available since 1982 that can signal a warning years before the current standard of care. It is called Thermography.
This non-invasive, pain-free, no radiation screening should be included in every woman’s breast health check-up.
Available at the Center
Ann J. Barker, BSN, RN, LMT, CTT
Member of Breast Thermography International
Breast Awareness Imaging, LLC
71 Spit Brook Rd, Suite 103 | Nashua, NH 03060
Call for your appointment today
The Best Breast Test: The Promise of Thermography
by Christine Northrup
Every year when Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October) comes around I am a saddened and surprised that thermography hasn’t become more popular. Part of this is my mindset. I’d rather focus on breast health and ways to prevent breast cancer at the cellular level than put the emphasis on testing and retesting until you finally do find something to poke, prod, cut out or radiate. That’s why I call October Breast Health Awareness Month, not Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I understand that mammography has been the gold standard for years. Doctors are the most familiar with this test, and many believe that a mammogram is the best test for detecting breast cancer early. But it’s not. Studies show that a thermogram identifies precancerous or cancerous cells earlier, and produces unambiguous results, which cuts down on additional testing–and it doesn’t hurt the body. Isn’t this what women really want?
Dr. Getson explains how thermography works this way.
"It is widely acknowledged that cancers, even in their earliest stages, need nutrients to maintain or accelerate their growth. In order to facilitate this process, blood vessels are caused to remain open, inactive blood vessels are activated, and new ones are formed through a process known as neoangiogenesis. This vascular process causes an increase in surface temperature in the affected regions, which can be viewed with infrared imaging cameras. Additionally, the newly formed or activated blood vessels have a distinct appearance, which thermography can detect."
Heat is an indication that inflammation exists, and typically inflammation is present in precancerous and cancerous cells, too. (It’s also present in torn muscles and ligaments as well as arthritic joints, which thermography can also detect.)
Thermography’s accuracy and reliability is remarkable, too. In the 1970s and 1980s, a great deal of research was conducted on thermography. In 1981, Michel Gautherie, Ph.D., and his colleagues reported on a 10 year study, which found that an abnormal thermogram was 10 times more significant as a future risk indicator for breast cancer than having a history of breast cancer in your family.
[added: A 2008 study performed at Cornell was published in the American Journal of Surgery and written by the american Academy of Breast Surgeons; showed a 97% sensitivity rate identifying malignant tumors comparing to biopsy.]
The most promising aspect of thermography is its ability to spot anomalies years before mammography. Using the same data from the 10-year study, researchers H. Spitalier and D. Giruaud determined that thermography alone was the first alarm in 60 percent of the cases of women who were eventually diagnosed with cancer. Dr. Getson adds:
"Since thermal imaging detects changes at the cellular level, studies suggest that this test can detect activity 8 to 10 years before any other test. This makes it unique in that it affords us the opportunity to view changes before the actual formation of the tumor. Studies have shown that by the time a tumor has grown to sufficient size to be detectable by physical examination or mammography, it has in fact been growing for about seven years achieving more than 25 doublings of the malignant cell colony. At 90 days there are two cells, at one year there are 16 cells, and at five years there are 1,048,576 cells–an amount that is still undetectable by a mammogram."
(At 8 years, there are almost 4 billion cells.)
Today, women are encouraged to get a mammogram, so they can find their breast cancer as early as possible. With thermography as your regular screening tool, it’s likely that you would have the opportunity to make adjustments to your diet, beliefs and lifestyle to transform your cells before they became cancerous. Talk about true prevention.
Clearer Results, Fewer Additional Tests
To many, it felt like the world was set on its ear when, in November 2009, the United States Preventative Services Task Force said it recommended that women begin regular mammograms at 50 instead of 40 and that mammograms are needed every two years instead of annually between the ages of 50 and 74. Some women felt this was a way for the insurance companies to save money, but I cheered these new guidelines. (For more information read “The New Mammography Guidelines” in the Women’s Wisdom Circle on www.drnorthrup.com.) The Task Force concluded that the risk of additional and unnecessary testing far outweighed the benefits of annual mammograms–and I couldn’t agree more.
Ten years ago, Danish researchers Ole Olsen and Peter Gotzsche concluded, after analyzing data from seven studies, that mammograms often led to needless treatments and were linked to a 20 percent increase in mastectomies, many of which were unnecessary. Dr. Getson expounded, “According to the 1998 Merck Manual, for every case of breast cancer diagnosed each year, 5 to 10 women will undergo a painful breast biopsy. This means that if a woman has an annual mammogram for 10 years, she has a 50 percent chance of having a breast biopsy.”
Thermography is a particularly good choice for younger breasts, which tend to be denser. It doesn’t identify fibrocystic tissue, breast implants or scars as needing further investigation. It’s also good at detecting changes in the cells in the armpit area, an area that mammography isn’t always good at screening. Perhaps even more exciting is that a thermogram can help a woman diagnosed with ductal carconoma in situ (DCIS) decide, along with her health practitioners, whether she requires aggressive or conservative treatment. If you’ve ever had an unnecessary biopsy or been scared by a false positive result on a mammogram, please consider getting a thermogram and using it in conjunction with the mammogram to figure our your treatment options.
Thermography is very safe–it’s even safe for pregnant and nursing women! It’s merely an image of the heat of your body.
It’s ironic that the test women are using for prevention may be causing the very problem they’re trying to avoid in the first place! Another reason the United States Preventative Services Task Force reversed its aggressive mammogram guidelines was because of the exposure to radiation. It’s well known that excessive doses of radiation can increase your risk of cancer. And this doesn’t even touch on the harm done to the body from unnecessary biopsies, lumpectomies, mastectomies, chemotherapy, radiation treatment and so forth.
It Doesn’t Hurt
Unlike a mammogram, a thermogram doesn’t hurt! Just about everyone who’s ever had a mammogram has complained about how painful it is. The first time you get a mammogram can be quite a shock. Who knew a breast could be flattened like that? Well, the pain isn’t in your imagination. The pressure that the mammogram machine puts on each breast when it’s being compressed is equivalent to putting a 50-pound weight on your breast.
You would be surprised by how many women tell me their doctors make them feel guilty for not having a mammogram. Women who just know they have healthy breasts. Don’t be intimidated if you prefer to forgo annual mammography.
Thermography is a better technology for all the reasons I’ve already described. Plus it gives results that are unique to you, time after time. But there are some things to be wary of. Dr. Getson explains, “To be sure, not all thermographic equipment is the same, nor is every center backed by qualified, board-certified physicians who are specifically trained in the interpretation of these images.
Instead of just screening for breast cancer, a thermogram can tell you how healthy your breasts are. It also has the potential to truly detect breast cell anomalies long before mammography can detect cancer, when done properly. This allows you to implement lifestyle changes that can improve the health of your breasts proactively instead of waiting for a cancer diagnosis later. In honor of Breast Health Awareness month, I encourage you to check out thermography for yourself and your loved ones.
- M. Gautherie and C. M. Gros, “Breast Thermography and Cancer Risk Prediction,” Cancer, vol. 45, no. 1 (January 1, 1980), pp. 51-56.
- H. Spitalier et al., “Does Infrared Thermography Truly Have a Role in Present-Day Breast Cancer Management?” in M. Gautherie and E. Albert, eds., Biomedical Thermology: Proceedings of an International Symposium (New York: A. R. Liss, 1982), pp. 269-78; R. Amalric et al., “Does Infrared Thermography Truly Have a Role in Present-Day Breast Cancer Management?” Progress in Clinical and Biological Research, vol. 107 (1982), pp. 269-78.
- Gotzsche, P. and Olsen, O., “Is Screening for Breast Cancer with Mammography Justifiable?” The Lancet, vol. 355, no. 9198 (Jan. 8, 2000), pp. 129-34; Gotzsche, P. and Olsen, O., Cochrane Review on Screening for Breast Cancer with Mammography, The Lancet, vol. 358, no. 9290 (Oct. 20, 2001), pp. 1340-42.
- Semelka, R., Imaging X-rays cause cancer: a call to action for caregivers and patients, Medscape, Feb. 13, 2006, reviewed and renewed Feb. 16, 2007.
Harvard Public Health
Routine Mammograms May Result in Significant Overdiagnosis of Invasive Breast Cancer
Late-Stage Disease Incidence Not Reduced by Screening
For immediate release: Monday, April 5, 2012
Boston, MA – New Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) research suggests that routine mammography screening—long viewed as an essential tool in detecting early breast cancers—may in fact lead to a significant amount of overdiagnosis of disease that would otherwise have proved harmless. Based on a study of women in Norway, the researchers estimate that between 15% and 25% of breast cancer cases are overdiagnosed.
The study appears in the April 3, 2012 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.
“Mammography might not be appropriate for use in breast cancer screening because it cannot distinguish between progressive and non-progressive cancer,” said lead author Mette Kalager, a visiting scientist at HSPH and a researcher at the Telemark Hospital in Norway. “Radiologists have been trained to find even the smallest of tumors in a bid to detect as many cancers as possible to be able to cure breast cancer. However, the present study adds to the increasing body of evidence that this practice has caused a problem for women—diagnosis of breast cancer that wouldn’t cause symptoms or death.”
Most women in the U.S. begin having annual mammograms in their 40s or 50s. But recent research suggesting evidence of overdiagnosis has increased debate about the benefits of screening. A number of experts have speculated that new effective treatments for breast cancer play a larger role in saving women’s lives than screening does—and have noted that overdiagnosis can cause unnecessary stress and unnecessary medical treatment.
Kalager says the new findings suggest that women should be well-informed not only about the potential benefit from mammography, but also about its possible harms—including mental distress, biopsies, surgeries, or chemotherapy and hormone treatments for disease that would never have caused symptoms.
The researchers analyzed data from 39,888 women with invasive breast cancer in Norway, 7,793 of whom were diagnosed during the 10-year rollout of the Norwegian Breast Cancer Screening Program, which began in 1996, for women ages 50 through 69. Because the screening program was phased in over time, the researchers were able to compare the number of breast cancer cases in women who had been offered screening with those not offered screening. The remaining study population consisted of two historical-comparison groups—mirroring the current groups—of women diagnosed with breast cancer from 1986 through 1995, before the nationwide program began.
The researchers theorized that if mammography is beneficial, it would lead to a decrease in late-stage breast cancer cases—the theory being that early detection prevents late-stage disease.
But the researchers did not find a reduction in late-stage disease in women who’d been offered screening. They did find, though, a substantial amount of overdiagnosis; among the 7,793 women diagnosed with breast cancer through participation in the screening program, 15% to 25% were overdiagnosed—between 1,169 and 1,948 women. Based on those numbers, they further estimated that, for every 2,500 women invited to screening, 2,470 to 2,474 will never be diagnosed with breast cancer and 2,499 will never die from breast cancer. Only one death from breast cancer will be prevented. But 6 to 10 women will be overdiagnosed, and treated with surgery, radiation therapy, and possibly chemotherapy without any benefit.
Support for the study was provided by the Norwegian Research Council and Frontier Science.
“Overdiagnosis of Invasive Breast Cancer Due to Mammography Screening: Results From the Norwegian Screening Program,” Mette Kalager, Hans-Olov Adami, Michael Bretthauer, Rulla Tamimi, Annals of Internal Medicine, online April 2, 2012
For more information:
Harvard School of Public Health is dedicated to advancing the public’s health through learning, discovery and communication. More than 400 faculty members are engaged in teaching and training the 1,000-plus student body in a broad spectrum of disciplines crucial to the health and well being of individuals and populations around the world. Programs and projects range from the molecular biology of AIDS vaccines to the epidemiology of cancer; from risk analysis to violence prevention; from maternal and children’s health to quality of care measurement; from health care management to international health and human rights. For more information on the school visit www.hsph.harvard.edu.
The American Journal of Surgery 2008
Study performed by The American Society of Breast Surgeons at The Department of Surgery, New York Presbyterian Hospital-Cornell, New York, NY
Digital infrared thermal imaging—DITI– has resurfaced in this era of modernized computer technology. In this clinical trial, 92 patients for whom a breast biopsy was recommended based on prior mammogram or ultrasound underwent DITI. The results showed 60 of 94 biopsies were malignant and 34 were benign. DITI identified 58 of 60 malignancies, with 97% sensitivity.
Conclusion: DITI is a valuable adjunct to mammography and ultrasound, especially in women with dense breast tissue. DITI is painless, noninvasive, does not emit harmful radiation, has no patient risk, provides immediate results, and is relatively inexpensive compared to MRI. Patients who could stand to benefit from this technology are those whose diagnosis of breast cancer can be difficult, including younger women, men, patients with dense breasts, or patients with surgically altered breasts (implants, breast reduction).
The National Cancer Institute
“20% or 1 in 5 cancers can be missed by mammography.”
“…any level of radiation can cause cancer…it is ironic that ionizing radiation is our best screening tool now for 50 years”
“The largest risk for having a false-positive mammogram was the individual radiologist’s tendency to read the test as abnormal. This uncertainty can lead to false-positives and negative biopsies at an alarming rate of 80%.”
A study conducted by Dr. William Hobbins, MD at the University of Wisconsin Medical Center concluded two interesting facts.
- Thermography had 10 times the yield as compared to a family history of breast cancer. This is quite remarkable. As family history is an undeniable risk factor for breast cancer development and is universally accepted by physicians one would think that a university study demonstrating 10 times the sensitivity for thermography would be accepted as valid.
- In many cases an isolated abnormal thermogram (this is a thermogram demonstrating suspicious findings not correlated by mammography) was followed for many years utilizing thermography for changes associated with cancer development. In many of these cases, mammography and resulting biopsy was positive, as much as 8-10 years later in the exact area the thermogram predicted that a cancer might be present.