by Joel Shuler
Pink ribbons, pink armbands and an assortment of pink clothing and paraphernalia have a singular meaning to most women over age 40: Schedule an annual mammogram.
For all women, breast health is important, as every woman living today has a one in eight chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime. This makes screening for breast abnormalities very important. However, mammography is not the only method of detecting breast abnormalities. Other detection methods include thermography and ultrasound. Of these, thermography is the least well known, even though the technology has been utilized as a screening tool since the 1980s.
Thermography is an approach to breast screening that does not use radiation. Instead, digital infrared thermal imaging studies heat distribution in regions of the body. Thermal imaging cameras can detect abnormalities and inflammation in breast tissue. The science behind thermography rests with the understanding that cancerous tumors require a steady blood supply to grow. Pre-cancerous areas within the breast and areas surrounding a growing tumor almost always show signs of high metabolic and vascular circulation activity. This process tends to result in higher regional surface temperatures, which thermography can detect. It’s these temperature variations than can provide the earliest signs of something abnormal developing within the breast.
Like mammography and ultrasound, thermography does not diagnose breast cancer—only a biopsy can provide a breast cancer diagnosis— but thermal imaging technology can serve as an additional tool in the early detection toolkit. Thermography is non-invasive and radiation-free; patients simply sit before a thermal imaging camera, which produces a digital thermal image that is reviewed by a certified medical professional.
“The non-invasive, no-touch nature of thermography leads to a very comfortable experience for our clients,” explains Michelle Hart, president of DITI Imaging, in San Antonio. “Our thermograms are interpreted by the board-certified medical doctors of Electronic Medical Interpretation, Inc.”
Practitioners that offer thermographic imaging do not promote the screenings as a substitute or replacement for mammograms. Instead, it is another preventive care option that could provide the earliest signs of an abnormality.
“With this disease, early detection is so critically important, and that’s why we provide this service, to support early detection so more woman can survive and thrive,” says Hart, who is also a breast cancer survivor. “I’m passionate about it, because I know how important this is.”
Joel Shuler is publisher of Natural Awakenings in San Antonio. DITI Imaging began in San Antonio and Austin in 2006. For more information, call 210- 705-1232 or visit DITIImaging.com.