Women should continue to have regular mammograms for breast cancer screening and should not turn to thermography, FDA and others. breast cancer experts say because thermography has not been shown to be effective in detecting breast cancer.
Some health centers, homeopathic clinics and others advertise the use of thermography as an alternative to mammography. The FDA and cancer experts say there is no evidence that it can detect or detect breast cancer. In fact, the FDA has issued warnings and fines to health care providers who make misleading claims about thermography.
The biggest risk is that if you get a test that has not been shown to be effective, it may mean that your breast cancer is diagnosed later, when treatment is more difficult and the chances are worse.
“The most comprehensive evidence we have tells us that mammography is the best tool we have to save lives, which is why it is recommended and advised by almost every medical organization,” says Lars J. Grimm, MD, MHS, FSBI, is a breast radiologist at Duke University Medical Center and an associate professor of radiology at Duke University School of Medicine. “Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women and mammography is the only way to detect it early.”
The earlier breast cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat, the more treatment options are available, and the more likely the patient is to have a better outcome, Grimm said.
Rachel Bram, Dr., agrees. She is the director of the Center for Breast Imaging and Intervention and the head of the Breast Cancer Program at the George Washington Cancer Center in Washington, DC.
“The goal is to save lives, and thermography does not save lives. Mammography does that, ”says Bram. “Breast cancer mortality in the United States has fallen by 40 percent in the last two decades, based on a combination of effective screening and therapies. Effective screening begins with mammography. ”
Bram chose to specialize in breast cancer after her mother had the disease. For years in her career, she herself was diagnosed with breast cancer. For 27 years without cancer, in addition to her work at George Washington, she is also the Chief Medical Officer of the Brem Foundation, where she trains women in disease and prevention.
“There is absolutely no evidence that there is any reduction in mortality or benefit from thermography,” Bram said. “We have many options to help us find the wounded, treat breast cancer, but thermography is not one of them.”
What is the difference between mammography and thermography?
Mammography and 3-D mammography (also known as breast tomosynthesis) produce low-dose X-rays of the breast. These images allow doctors to check for lumps and others early signs of breast cancer.
Mammography is “the only proven imaging method that has been shown to improve breast cancer survival,” says Grimm.
Thermography uses an infrared camera to show heat and blood flow in the body. Makeup explains that cancers use a lot more energy, so the theory is that if there is breast cancer, the area will appear with higher temperatures.
“The problem is that there are a huge number of studies involving hundreds of thousands of women comparing mammography to thermography, which show that thermography is just not very good,” says Grimm.
“He misses many cancers and has false positives,” Grimm said. “So when you look at them next to each other, you see that the thermogram doesn’t work as well as mammography.”
When should I have a mammogram and how often do I need one?
Your doctor can tell you what is right for you, given your personal risk of breast cancer.
Brem, Grimm, and many medical organizations, including the American College of Radiology and the Society for Breast Imaging, recommend that women have annual mammograms after the age of 40. But some medical organizations offer every 2 years and / or starting at age 50.
“Based on the data, most lives will be saved [by women] having a mammogram every year, ”says Bram.
People at higher risk of the disease – including those with a family history of breast cancer – may need to start mammography screening earlier. And if they also have dense breast tissuetheir doctor may recommend an additional imaging test – breast ultrasound or NMR – in addition to their mammography. These additional tests do not replace mammography. Do not do anything.
“Effective screening begins with mammography. For some women, this may not be enough, ”says Bram.
Why mammograms are important
When women receive regular mammograms, breast cancer can often be detected before the woman has any symptoms of the disease or before a lump can be felt.
Again, early detection of breast cancer is crucial.
“It’s not just the survival rate that is different [with early-stage cancer]but the journey a woman has to go through is also much easier, ”says Bram. She notes that in the early stages of breast cancer, surgery and chemotherapy it may be less extensive than if the cancer was discovered later.
How about exposure to mammography radiation?
One of the concerns some women have about mammograms is their exposure radiation. But mammograms use a very small dose of radiation.
“In radiology, we take radiation safety very seriously. In terms of mammography, the dose of radiation we use is incredibly low and very strictly regulated, “says Grimm. “The risk of radiation is so small, and the benefits of detecting breast cancer far outweigh the risks.”
Brem agrees. “Machines need to be scanned every year to make sure it’s below the allowable dose,” she said. “You get more radiation flying to California.”
Overcoming discomfort and fear
Some women postpone mammography because they are worried or uncomfortable waiting for the results.
“Most women don’t like the compression that comes with a mammogram. And I don’t like compression, ”says Bram, referring to the brief pressure applied to the breast to get an X-ray. “But it works.”
She also encourages women to remember that any anxiety they experience from a mammogram is temporary. If you don’t get a mammogram, it doesn’t change whether you have breast cancer or not. This simply worsens your treatment options if found later.
“We know that mammography is a cause for concern, but it’s also life-saving,” Bram said. “We hope that women today are empowered and informed and will stand up for themselves. We believe that every woman should have a mammogram.