Breast Health and Thermography

One key to breast cancer survival is early detection. And breast screenings remain the gold standard for that early detection, typically in the form of routine mammograms. However, often painful, and sometimes inaccurate, mammography has generated false-positive test results, leading women to unnecessary medical treatments. To counter this, an imaging test known as breast thermography is becoming an important adjunctive procedure.

What is thermography?

Breast thermography (also known as Digital Infrared Imaging-DII) is a 15-minute, pain-free, non-invasive test that shows the structure of your breast while measuring heat emanating from the surface of your body. Changes in skin temperature are the result of increased blood flow. This is important because even early-stage cancers need a blood supply to bring in nutrients to feed the cancer.

Because temperature change shows up as colors brighter than those of healthy cells, thermography can identify precancerous or cancerous cells earlier and with less ambiguous results. Studies indicate that an abnormal thermography test is 10 times more significant as a future risk indicator for breast cancer than having a family history of breast cancer.

Is it Right for Me?

The FDA has authorized breast thermography as a risk assessment tool to be used in addition to - not in replace of - mammography. Women must be at least 20 years old. It's not suitable for women who have very large or fibrocystic breasts, are using hormone replacement treatment, have had cosmetic breast surgery, or are nursing or pregnant. Consult with your physician to determine if it's an option for you.

When to Test (may vary based on personal and family medical history)

Age 20 - Initial thermogram

Age 20 - 29 - Thermogram every 3 years

Age 30 and over - Thermogram annually

Boost Breast Health with these Bust Musts

From the bare-breasted days of the cave woman, through the Renaissance and into the era of blonde bombshells, a woman's bosom has been an icon representing both sexual prowess and vitality. But the breasts are also vulnerable. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and, each year, about 40,000 women die from the disease. From puberty through the elder years, it's imperative for a woman to take care of her breasts, from the inside out, both physically and emotionally.

The "bust musts" for breast health go beyond screenings and routine self-exams. Until recently, the prevalent thinking was that screenings are the best way to detect and treat cancer before it metastasizes. However, increasing numbers of false-positive tests have led to unnecessary medical treatment. In some cases, screenings have failed to detect active tumors. It could be that timing for screenings should be personalized, based on health and family history, age, and lifestyle habits.

More important than early detection is the power of prevention in the hands of every woman. This includes properly performing breast self-exams (BSE), and taking care of body and mind in ways that boost breast health.

Six Ways to Boost Breast Health

Know Your Bosom. It's important for a woman to be familiar with the look and feel of her own breasts. Performing a monthly BSE is the best way to detect a lump or other abnormality. This video will help you do it right.

Chill Out. In general, excessive stress has negative effects on health. Research indicates that stress can also increase your risk for breast cancer as well as its recurrence (Ohio State U). Because stress impairs immunity, there's evidence that it can alter how aggressively cancer develops. To manage stress, try yoga or meditation.

Go for Green. A component of green tea called epigallocatechin gallate (ECCG) is a powerful antioxidant that is believed to suppress the growth of new blood vessels in tumors. ECCG also seems to play a role in keeping cancer cells from destroying healthy tissue. Enjoy at least a cup or two of tea daily.

Get Crunchy. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables contain cancer-fighting compounds that convert excess estrogen into a form that is more "friendly" to a woman's body. Women who eat a high percentage of cruciferous veggies on a daily basis are less likely to develop breast cancer. Enjoy a "crunchy salad" or add steamed mixed veggies to your daily meal plan.

Get Spicy. The turmeric plant contains curcumin, which is known to support a strong immune system. Some research shows curcumin can reactivate genes that suppress tumor development and stave off cancer cells. Add a curry night to your weekly meal plan.

Fiber Up. Fiber from fruits and whole grains helps rid the body of toxins. In addition, flax contains cancer-fighting compounds, called lignans, that can block the negative effects of excess estrogen on cells. Sprinkle flaxseed on your salad or yogurt.

References:

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