When the Becky Baker Foundation began two years ago we provided over 2,000 mammograms all around the country. Our mission today is to educate and provide many options for people to make sound, educated choices about their health in hopes of preventing cancer and other diseases. We decided to also offer thermograms as another option for breast screening. Everyone knows about mammograms so providing a comparison of both mammograms and thermograms seems a good idea now!
A mammogram uses radiation to assess changes and issues in breast tissue. It is essentially an x-ray as you would get for a broken arm, for example. The patient will stand at the machine and their tissue is compressed briefly between two plates to take the image. I have spoken to many women about this option and some did not feel any pain while others had some pain during the compression phase. A health practitioner can be the guide for when to start these screenings so a baseline is established to compare to in upcoming years. Screening used to begin around the age of 40, but we know more now and with family history and many other variables, some practitioners advise sooner screening for their patients.
Thermography uses infrared technology to detect and record temperature changes in the tissue. These can be performed on any part of the body. The procedure will create a map showing heat in various places within the breast tissue. Inflammation or growths will show as higher concentrations of blood vessels and thus a higher temperature (denoted by colors on the map). There is no pain to the procedure as tissue is not compressed and since there is no radiation exposure it is considered safe.
As with ANY procedure, everyone should learn and understand both benefits and disadvantages in order to make good choices that feel right for you. I know through the years I have chosen very natural approaches to my health and have had excellent outcomes. I am someone who loves to really believe in my body and how it can heal itself if given the right terrain and circumstances so I try to support that through my choices. I have had both mammograms and thermograms through the years and know now what will work best for me moving forward.
Making the decision which option is best for you is a personal choice. Look around in your area for practitioners offering both and learn what you can. The most important piece to understand is that taking action CAN save lives. Sometimes our fears and anxieties stop us in our tracks when caring for our bodies. Screening tools are just that, tools that can provide us with more information than we may be able to see with our eyes. Use these tools as part of your own health care and spread the word to others about BOTH options. Preventing ANY illness or disease is always preferred over treatment!
Dr. Barb is the President and Director of Education for the BBF.