For the modern patient seeking additional screening options, the benefits of Infrared Mammography also known as breast thermography are clear. Not only is Infrared Mammography a painless, non-contact imaging modality, its radiation free. Even more exciting, Infrared Mammography is ideal for imaging demographics conventionally less suitable for anatomical imaging such as X-Ray Mammography, including:
Despite its usefulness, as it stands today anatomical imaging techniques measuring breast densities such as X-Ray Mammography have a very difficult time differentiating between normal dense breast tissue and dense cancer tissue. This is due to the fact that both types of tissue have similar densities and as a result both absorb similar amounts of radiation making the resulting image very difficult to read. It has been described as being similar to looking for a golf ball in a snowstorm. In general women under the age of 40 are not recommended for screening with X-Ray Mammography due largely to the fact that younger women generally have denser breasts.
Infrared Mammography in comparison is a physiological imaging modality meaning that it measures physiologic activity in the breast represented by heat emission. This makes Infrared Mammography ideal for women with dense breasts, as breast tissue density does not interfere with infrared imaging of the breast.
During an X-Ray Mammogram the breast is placed on a special plate. A paddle will then come down and compress the breast tissue spreading the tissue out and evening the thickness of the breast. There are large populations of women with small breasts or women who have had a mastectomy for which X-Ray Mammography is less effective or ineffective due to the absence of sufficient breast tissue to be imaged.
Using Infrared Mammography, there is no need for compression of the breast. In fact getting an Infrared Mammogram is similar to getting your photograph taken. Infrared energy naturally emitted from your body passes through a special germanium lens and projected onto an Infrared detector array. For more on how an Infrared Mammogram is performed click here.
Implants can decrease an X-Ray Mammogram's ability to detect breast cancer. This is due to the fact that implants can obscure the X-Rays passing through the breast and make it difficult to spot a cancerous lesion. In addition to decreased effectiveness with breast implants X-Ray Mammograms carry the risk of rupturing the implant from the compression.
Since Infrared Mammography does not rely on passing energy through the breast there is no obstruction from breast implants. This makes it a great addition to your screening regimen to make sure nothing gets missed. In addition because Infrared Mammography is completely non-contact there is no risk of rupturing breast implants.
Unless there is cause for concern it is generally considered better to wait on getting an X-Ray Mammogram for women who are pregnant or nursing. There are several reasons for this position. When a woman is pregnant hormone changes cause the breasts to grow in size and density. This can make it difficult for your physician to distinguish a cancerous lesion (see “Women With Dense Breasts” above). Normal changes in the breast during pregnancy can be mistaken for cancerous activity or vice versa. In addition, while pregnant, women who get X-Ray Mammograms wear a lead shield over the abdomen, it is as of yet unknown what affect X-Ray Radiation will have on an unborn child.
While there are significant structural and even physiological changes occurring in the breast during pregnancy this has little impact on an Infrared Mammogram. Infrared Mammography monitors changes in physiology however the physiological changes occurring during pregnancy do not affect the outcome of an Infrared Mammogram.
Fibrocystic breasts are a very common condition. In fact about half of all women have fibrocystic breasts. What this means is that the breast tissue is more fibrous, cystic, and glandular which increases the overall density of the breast. Because of these dense cysts, glands and fibrous breast tissue this makes detecting a cancerous mass much more difficult to distinguish. This can sometimes lead to false positives or false negative results from an X-Ray Mammogram.
Fortunately with the addition of an Infrared Mammogram your physician has additional information about your physiology. This additional physiologic information can better help your physician make the determination as to whether the mass seen on the X-Ray Mammogram is cancerous or simply a benign cyst. This is because the physiologic activity from a cyst is much different from that of a malignant tumor.
At Infrared Medical Solutions we believe that Infrared Mammography offers a valuable addition to your breast screening regimen. With this additional and an entirely new type of information we believe that physicians can make more informed decisions about your breast health. Ask your doctor about the benefits of Infrared Mammography and locate an imaging center in your area.