Menopause Mondays: Have You Screened Your "Breast Friends"?
Advances in thermal imaging technology make thermography a new (and interesting!) supplement to a mammogram. I’ve never had a thermal image taken of my breasts, but Lisa Kalison of Discovery Screening gave me some insight as to why thermography may be another way for women to keep their “Breast Friends”!
Q: On the Shmirshky blog, we recently shared information about breast cancer and how chemotherapy may lead women into early menopause. I hear you have a unique take on Breast Cancer Awareness Month. What is it?
A: Our focus is on the solution, not the problem. We believe in Breast HEALTH Awareness by educating women through our seminars. We explain why we have been losing the battle against breast cancer and how we can win. We teach women that healthy breasts can be maintained, restored and sustained—that they can preserve and protect their breast-health so they never have to fear breast cancer again. They learn how to avoid breast cancer through proven prevention methods, because prevention is still the best cure. We show them how they can see the earliest indicators of tissue changes, through thermal imaging, years in advance of disease or cancer, in order to avoid toxic treatments and invasive procedures, and possibly the loss of their breasts or their lives!
They learn what their doctors can’t tell them about breast health, and how to monitor and protect their breasts. We present this valuable information hosted by 16 wellness centers throughout San Diego, Orange County and Temecula in October and November and, of course, year-round.
Q: What’s thermal imaging?
A: Thermal imaging is a way of viewing the thermal patterns of the body to see where tissue changes may be indicated by metabolic activity that is abnormal, like increased inflammation or vascularity. This is the language of the immune system. When you develop a fever your immune system is at work healing your body.
A thermal image shows this metabolic activity associated with the body’s natural immune system at work. Thermal imaging uses an infrared imaging camera to read over 7,000 temperature points on the body then the software attaches a color to those values to show an image. These are the pointers to where the trouble spots are so your health practitioner can fashion a treatment strategy specifically for that area.
Q: Why haven’t I heard of this? How’d you find out about it?
A: Thermal imaging has been around for over 50 years, first developed by the military, and was FDA-registered in 1982. Medical applications and the infrared cameras have recently advanced so much that thermal changes are now visible within 1/100th of a centigrade. However, the “standard of care” has been the mammogram which uses radiation and compression to find a mass. Thermography, on the other hand, is looking for the metabolic activity that appears 8-10 years before a mass can be seen. If you can know this far in advance then you can avoid the invasive processes that are so commonly used today. I learned about the value of thermal imaging when I discovered a lump in my own breast. I had been a health fanatic for over 30 years, so this was a shock. I went to my gynecologist who immediately referred me to a breast surgeon, who required a mammogram, a biopsy and possible lumpectomy. I said, “Aren’t we skipping a few steps here?” I had a mammogram once before and swore I’d never do that again. I had been screening my breasts with thermography for 9 years by this point, so I decided to see what that could tell me first! To my relief, there was no metabolic activity at all! To be safe, I decided to get the least invasive of the “anatomical” screenings, a breast ultrasound. What I learned from the sonogram is that the lump was just a benign fluid cyst and that I had 4 more that had been undetectable by palpation. That’s when I learned that during hormonal changes women develop cysts that come and go naturally, throughout their entire lifetime! I did not need to do anything invasive, I did some intestinal cleansing, improved my diet, and the cysts were all gone 3 months later. What I also learned is that nearly 75% of breast biopsies are benign, and if the cells are malignant, the puncture of the needle can allow the microscopic cancer cell to spread. As a result of my research and passion for what I now know, I established Discovery Screening Thermal Imaging with the mission of “Saving Breasts and Saving Lives.”
Q: Hormonal changes like ones you have during PM&M can cause cysts? Oh, boy! At least we know it’s hormones and not an alien taking over our bodies. Now, speaking of spaceships, how is the procedure different from mammography? What are appointments like? Who reads the images?
A: Thermal imaging is like sitting for a portrait. There is no compression, no radiation, no contact and it can see lymph node vascular activity in places that mammograms can’t touch. It is a completely dignified process and no one sees you or touches you while disrobed. This is unique to how we provide our service. The thermal imaging camera reads the skin surface temperature that your body emits so it is 100% safe. The imaging sessions take from 1 to 2 hours depending on the extent of what you want imaged, from just the breasts to full-body, and if you have specific concerns, we take extra images. Our images are sent to an independent physician reading service of medical doctors, pathologists and naturopaths who are totally unbiased. The reports come back to us and then we go over the report with the patient and explain, in plain English, translating what the reading physician reported. We make sure our patients fully understand what is being reported, to empower them to make the wisest, most informed and confident choices for their highest health. Then, we provide a copy to the patient’s practitioner to develop a course of action, if necessary. If the patient does not have a particular health practitioner, we become a resource for the best non-invasive, natural healing, integrative health practitioners who help to avoid toxic solutions and surgical procedures.
Lisa Kalison’s aim through thermography is to catch potentially problematic areas in the breasts before they become cancerous. Like she says on her site (www.DiscoveryScreening.com), prevention is key. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to health, so whether your preferred check-up is thermal imaging, a mammogram, a sonogram or a simple self-exam, remember to trust yourself, listen to your body, and get the help you deserve!
Remember: Reaching out is IN. Suffering in silence is OUT.