It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to detection of cancer. October is the month of breast cancer awareness. Although Mammography is the common method used to detect breast cancer, Thermography is another less painful alternative. Even though it’s a safe alternative, the debate between Thermography and Mammography is not a conclusive proof. Until there are more fool proof options, it is always best to consider the risks and discuss them with your health practitioner.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and many women will be encouraged to schedule their annual mammogram. After all, the earlier you catch breast cancer the better. Many women will opt out of getting a mammogram for many reasons. This can include fear of what they will find out, avoidance of the discomfort from the test itself, and fear of radiation.
Why Thermography Is Preferred
Some women have turned to thermography as a safe alternative to mammograms. So what is thermography? Thermography is a test that looks for heat changes using infrared sensors. Changes in heat can occur where there is an increase in blood vessels to an area that can occur where a tumor may be hiding. Radiation is not used in thermography, where as in mammogram, it does.
Study Says Emotional Toll Can Be Avoided
In 2014, an earth shattering study was published in the British Medical Journal questioning the risks versus benefits of mammography. It is because a Canadian study involving 90,000 women over a period of 25 years showed no statistically significant difference in survival between women who received regular mammograms and those that only had an annual physical breast examination. Most unsettling result was that 22% of the women in the mammography group were over-diagnosed. It was bad enough that these women were subjected to unnecessary cancer treatments and surgery, let alone the emotional toll. This study therefore left many practitioners confused about what to tell their patients. Let’s not forget that mammograms have also found many cancers before they were detectable on a breast exam. Having said that, is there a safe alternative or an additional measure that could be used to help catch breast cancer earlier without repeated exposures to radiation?
Debate Continues On Thermography vs Mammography
Thermography cannot diagnose breast cancer, but can be useful particularly for women who have dense, large, or fibrocystic breasts. It is because this type of breast tissue is difficult to read on a mammogram. However, if you choose to get a thermogram and it is abnormal, you should absolutely get a mammogram to help locate and confirm if there is an area that needs to be addressed further. So are thermograms better than mammograms? The answer is, thermograms and mammograms both can be valuable tools in locating abnormalities in the breast that may require further attention. Thermographies look for changes in blood flow patterns using heat. Mammograms use radiation. Neither tool by itself in infallible. Needless to say the debate between thermograms versus mammograms will continue. The frequency with which women should get their mammograms has also been debated since the Canadian study came out in 2014. Until there are more fool proof options it is best to consider your risks and discuss them with your health practitioner.