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Breast Thermography in Light of Current Mammogram Recommendations

December 1, 2009

With the new US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations of waiting to have regular mammography until age 50 I keep thinking about breast thermography . This is a non-invasive view of heat in the body. It is not the same view as a mammogram, as it does not actually detect tissue, but rather tissue’s potential to have a growth or the peripheral signs of a tumor. A tumor, to really grow and thrive needs to have a blood source. Cancerous tumors are able to create their own blood supply and when this happens the surrounding structures get heated, this change is what can show as an area of concern on a thermogram.

What I really wonder is how thermography can be used in lieu of mammography? From my understanding to actually “see” a tumor a screening mammogram is required as a first step and then following up with thermography as an annual screen could be an alternative to annual mammography. What the new USPSTF screening recommendations lack is really any discussion of risk of annual mammography, which is an x-ray. There is some risk to annual x-rays. X-ray machines are is no longer an option in the shoe store any more. And obstetricians have stopped the regular practice of x-raying pregnant women’s pelvis’s – just to be sure the head will fit.

So, since x-rays are not healthy I certainly hope the USPSTF and ACOG and all other stake holders seriously consider thermography and put their research dollars into a diagnostic method that does not pose a cancerous risk unto itself.

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