There’s More to Breast Health Than Just Detecting Lumps
Decades ago, the military had access to a special camera we were told could see in the dark; a night vision camera. Could it really see into the darkness? No. It was a camera that detected infrared radiation, or heat, given off by mammals. Images on the screen were in the shape of the animal or human being imaged. Hence, the ability to ‘see’ in the dark. In time, that technology became declassified and available for other practical applications such as finding heat loss in a home or inflammation in a human body. That’s where digital infrared thermal imaging comes in, aka Thermography.
Thermography images skin surface temperature to determine what is happening deeper in the breast, or any body part for that matter. Heat created internally will exit the body through the surface of the skin. Massage therapists will tell you that they can feel when a part of the body is warmer than other parts which indicates inflammation. For example, an arthritic knee will be and feel warmer than the knee of a person without arthritis.
The digital infrared camera used in Thermography creates its images without harmful radiation or squishing. These images look somewhat like a colored topographical map with different temperature readings displayed in different colors. Images are read by medical doctors who have special training in how to read and interpret a thermal scan. A written report, images included is generated and sent to the patient and their doctor.
A common question people have is, how does thermography for breast screening compare to mammograms. The short answer is, they are not comparable, like apples and oranges. They both have different roles in the breast screening process.
Mammograms are a type of x-ray which looks for lumps, pure and simple.
Thermography is a form of screening which is looking for subtleties in the tissue that could indicate the breast is in a less-than-optimal state. Here are some of the findings that may appear on a thermographic report.
Lymphatic Congestion: There are 17 lymph nodes of the lymphatic system in the area of the armpit. Among other things, the lymphatic system is responsible for removing cellular debris from the body, which I sometimes graphically describe it as cellular sewage, just to get the point across. If those nodes become congested (think nasal congestion), the lymphatic system can’t do its job effectively. Fortunately, there are specially trained massage therapists who can get the lymphatic fluid flowing again to help relieve the congestion and allow for more normal functioning of that system. This is especially important considering the close proximity to breast tissue.
Estrogen Dominance: Some reports come back with a determination of possible estrogen dominance within the breasts. That situation can be further investigated with hormone testing and then rectified with appropriate hormone balancing from a doctor or health professional who specializes in hormone replacement.
Fibrocystic Breasts: Thermography can graphically map not only the level of fibrocystic activity, but also the degree to which the breast is inflamed. There is research to suggest that fibrocystic activity can be reduced with the supplementation of iodine, but unfortunately the amount of iodine you get in salt won’t cut it. A good book to read regarding this is, “Iodine: Why you need it, why you can’t live without it” by David Brownstein MD. Dr. Brownstein does strongly advise that iodine be taken only under the supervision of a doctor, so please consult your physician before making any changes.
Thermal Imaging is for women who want more information about their breasts, besides just whether or not they have a lump. This is for women who want to know about the overall health status of their breast tissue in order to take measures to mitigate a situation and bring their breasts back to a state of perfect health.
That is what I call early detection.
Ingrid LeVasseur, BA, CCT is a certified clinical thermographer who received her training at Duke University. She has been a teacher of meditation for 23 years and spent four years teaching meditation and the principles of Ayurveda under the medical direction of Dr. Deepak Chopra. She founded Inner Image Clinical Thermography in 2006, offering thermal imaging services from her office in Falmouth, Maine and at 11 (and growing) other Maine locations as well. She can be reached at 207-781-6060 or through her web site at: www.MyInnerImage.com