By Lynda Witt, Certified Clinical Thermographer | Tucson, AZ
As more women are looking for methods of preventing breast disease, questions arise regarding Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging (DITI).
DITI has been around since it was FDA registered in 1982 and it remains a steadfast technology in alerting women to a shift away from stable physiology; a sure sign for the potential that some type of breast disease is developing.
Q:How is DITI used for monitoring breast health and the prevention of breast diseases?
A: DITI offers women the opportunity to address breast health before they are potentially forced to address a breast illness. DITI offers the possibility of monitoring breast health starting around age 28. By this age, breast physiology has matured and cellular changes are stable. Breast cancer begins as a cellular signal that demands growth and nutrition and a lump in the breast is a later (6-8 years on average) manifestation in the process. In active breast cancer, a vascular system develops that can supply this "need" and emits intense heat (hyperthermia). The thermal camera detects these patterns as the additional blood flow brings increased heat to the breast. These thermal patterns and temperature differentials between both breasts all tell a 'story' of what may be happening years prior to the formation of a tumor/lump. Of the thermologist sees evidence of neovascularity, further investigation is needed. This early alert allows for preventative measures to be taken in an attempt to reverse this trend. By having annual comparative studies to ensure no changes have occurred, women can use this technology to monitor breast health.
Q:How is a thermogram different from a mammogram?
A: Mammograms look for calcifications and/or tumors that are a later manifestation of breast cancer. Some still believe cancer to be a tiny lump that grows as it progresses and having a mammogram to find the lump at its smallest stage is their goal. Unfortunately, breast tissue density limits that ability and not all breast cancers will spread and become lethal. The many signs given off by cancerous cells prior to the "tiny lump" are what DITI is looking for.
Many women are not aware of the numerous steps preceding the growth of an abnormally large enough to be seen on an X-raty or felt during a breast exam. Thermograms are not limited by breast density as we are not penetrating the body with radiation; we are examining blood flow/skin surface temperatures, so the density of breast tissue/implants is not a factor. the benefit is that women can begin this non-invasive screening starting in their lat 20's with no health risks in their attempt to prevent breast disease.
Not all breast cancers are relentlessly progressing and/or continuing to grow and spread. If a woman has the misfortune of a breast cancer diagnosis, the "fortunate" type to have would be one that is not progressing or is non-aggressive. These types of breast cancer may not be seen thermographically because the needed blood supply (heat source) to "feed" the cancerous cells that enable it to spread may not be active, or one's immune system many have encapsulated this growth to wall it off from the rest of the body in an attempt to stop the development of the disease. Using all screening modalities appropriate to age and risk factors is the best use of any medical technology.
Q:Do I need a doctor's referral to have an appointment?
A: No, a referral is not needed for any type of thermal imaging.
Q:Is thermal imaging covered by insurance?
A: Not typically, but each person should check with their carrier. Plus, this procedure is surprisingly affordable for most.
Q:Are thermal cameras used to image other parts of the body?
A: Yes, upper/lower body and full-body imaging are used for a more comprehensive overview of health and wellness, as well as for people experiencing pain or discomfort in the body. Carpel tunnel, neck pain, myofascial dysfunction, deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and many other pain conditions are detected or confirmed using upper or full-body DITI. Thermal imaging can then be used to monitor healing and show reduction of inflammation often associated with these and many other conditions.
For more in-depth information about using DITI to monitor your breast health or to schedule an appointment at our Tucson, Arizona or multiple California screening locations, please visit our website atwww.proactivehealthsolutions.org.