I know I’m not the only person disappointed with the news media. It’s rife with sensationalism and biased stories. Worst of all are the “journalists” who go in search of tabloid-style stories and don’t bother with the details.
What happens in these cases? We end up watching biased stories that appear to be objective but aren’t. I recently saw a bogus news segment on thermograms, so I want to set the record straight on how this early detection tool can save you from breast cancer despite what some know-nothing journalists may say. It could save your life.
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Mammograms versus thermograms
The news report I saw knocking thermograms was based on ONE case of a woman who received a false negative, indicating she didn’t have cancer when in fact she did. The reporter then trotted out sound bites from a couple of radiologists (who make their living off of X-rays) to say that of course thermograms aren’t good for much and women should stick to mammograms.
The news report didn’t say a word about the terrible inaccuracy of mammograms, the countless false negatives and false positives. If we’re going to condemn screening procedures for one false negative, mammograms would have been outlawed years ago.
Early detection is key when it comes to any cancer, and breast cancer in particular. And it’s a fact that thermograms are a safe, valuable early detection tool for breast cancer.
The problem is, no single early detection tool is flawless. Mammograms are the most well-known, and they certainly detect some cancers. But they’re also virtually useless when it comes to detecting tumors in the dense tissue of younger women.
On top of that, mammograms can deliver false-negatives, false-positives, over-diagnosis, over-treatment, and radiation exposure. Last I checked, the false-negative rate was around 20 percent—meaning mammograms will miss one out of five breast cancer tumors.
They’re also virtually useless for women under age 40—and though rare, it’s the younger-than-forty crowd that develops some of the most malicious strains of breast cancer.
Consider thermograms instead
Thermography is not “alternative medicine” as such. It’s legal in the United States and widely used in Europe. In the U.S., conventional medicine has thrown it on the alternative medicine dust heap because it poses a threat to mammography, a huge, profitable industry with tens of thousands of people making a living off it.
The FDA approves thermography as safe but doesn’t officially support it and says it’s not an alternative to mammography. But given the FDA’s poor track record in supporting safe, non-invasive, proven health treatments, you shouldn’t let that stop you from reaping the benefits of thermography screening.
If you don’t know about it, thermography is a form of digital infrared imaging that’s completely safe—no radiation exposure whatsoever. It’s based on the concept that early tumor sites project more heat than normal breast tissue. This is because of the increased blood vessel circulation and metabolic changes that take place when a tumor first develops.
A thermogram pinpoints the abnormal heat levels that cancerous and — this is important — pre-cancerous areas generate. These areas pour out excessive heat long before a mammogram or any physical examination can detect a thing.
But when it comes to thermograms, the key thing is to look at changes over time. So anyone who gets a single thermogram and thinks that’s the last word on their risk factor is missing out on crucial information.
The single-bullet approach
While I absolutely do think some screening tests are better than others, it riles me when a news program puts out a sensational story that paints a tool as worthless. It’s like the medical industry taking a single-bullet approach to healthcare, trying to pigeon-hole illnesses into one-size-fits-all problems and solutions. Healthcare isn’t that easy, and it never will be.
Here’s what you have to remember. Most high-tech screening procedures are flawed in some way. Take mammograms, for instance. They’re just X-ray pictures of the breast. Not only do they not work well on dense breast tissue, as mentioned, but they’re subject to error. The machine can malfunction. The technician who interprets your results can screw up. Or a tumor just won’t show.
In a thermogram, the tumor site needs to be caught at a certain growth stage. And again, interpretation is subject to human error. The images have to be interpreted by a skilled, experienced thermographer. And as I said earlier, it’s the changes seen in a series of images, taken over a period of years, that most accurately flags cancer risk.
If this sounds alarming, it really isn’t. The abnormally hot areas that turn up in thermograms can take many, many years to develop into cancer. Immediate treatment isn’t needed. You’ve got time to observe how they change — and to proceed to other tests such as biopsies and mammograms if they seem warranted. Cancerous areas literally get hotter every year, and a thermogram can often see this occurring long before an X-ray could ever detect a mass.
We already know one in five cancers can’t be detected by mammography. Some of those cancers can be picked up by a thermogram. On the flip side, there is the occasional tumor site that won’t show up on a thermogram, but may with a mammogram or other screening test. In fact, some studies show an increased survival rate when mammography and breast thermography are used together.
It’s in your hands…
I’d say the best possible tool for fighting breast cancer is simply awareness. Know your options and choose what feels best for you based on your age, genetic risk, tissue density, and access. I’m not a fan of some of the diagnostic tools out there, but if you opt to use them, make sure you go in with eyes wide open. Ask questions. Don’t be a meek little lamb who does whatever doctor says. If you ever have any kind of doubts, get a second opinion. Push for it. It’s your life we’re talking about.