A mammogram is key in early breast cancer detection, therefore, saves lives: True.
A mammogram is the safest way for detection of breast health abnormalities: False.
A mammogram is the earliest detection available method: This may come as a surprise, but…also False.
All women from a certain age know what a mammogram is. Most of us will also know how it works - most, but still not all unfortunately. A mammogram, or Mammography is a screening method using ionizing radiation to examine the human breast, which is used as a diagnostic, primarily for breast cancer detection.
Now, if you are a person conscious of your health, wouldn’t you stop to question yourself, if being exposed to radiation might actually not be a good idea when it comes to cancer? Yes, you probably would.
The most direct effect of radiation is cell death. But radiation does not distinguish from healthy and unhealthy cells. Radiation decimates the bodies’ supply of Glutathione, consequently causing a massive release of free-radicals through our system, wrecking havoc tissue and organs. Not a nice thought. Now consider that, if you’re on your 40’s, you are being advised by the health programme to expose yourself every year.
Luckily, we are not alone on our doubts. Several specialists and researchers, asked themselves the same in behalf of their patients, leading to some concerning study’s - for example the one from the Netherlands Cancer Institute, funded by the Euratom Programme (and other relevant cancer research institutions) and published In the British Medical Journal, that comes to suggest that women with certain inherited genetic mutations (BRCA1 or BRCA2), under 30 years old, are particularly affected when exposed to radiation, and their risk of developing breast cancer escalates when exposed.
Hummm. OK. But this applies only for women with these genetic specifics. Right. That’s true. But when you’ve done your first mammogram, did your GP ask for your genetic screening beforehand? No. Do you actually know if this could be your case? Most probably… not.
Moreover, other recent studies suggest that, every time a woman does a mammogram it is increasing her risk of breast cancer in 1%. If your first mammogram is at 40, by the time you get to 50 (when 80% of the cases of cancer occur, according to Cancer Research UK), you will have increased your risk in 10%. When you’re 65, your risk would have increased 25%. 25%!! And if this wasn’t enough, the new 3D technology mammograms double the level of radiation for patients, according to the FDA. Yaics!!!
Ok. Lets stop here for a minute. In our first statement we said that a mammogram is key to save lives. It’s true indeed. Should we do mammograms? Yes, absolutely. It is an effective screening method, the only that can actually “see” inside your breast tissue (that’s what the radiation is for).
But are there other methods that can support early screenings, without exposing you to radiation, until there is a grounded suspicion that something is actually wrong? Yes, there are. Several actually. And one in particular is been gathering interest in the medical world. It is called Thermography.
Thermography technology is based on a very simple and natural concept. It measures the temperature of the organs’ tissue, at a cellular level, to identify unusual changes in the temperature that can indicate an abnormality. This method is based in the most basic health and body functioning knowledge: when tissue inflammation occurs, there is an increased blood flow and cell metabolism in the affected area. This causes the temperature of that particular area of tissue to rise, in what is commonly known by health specialist as a Hot Spot. This phenomenon happens before a lesion degenerates in cancer. Or not. This means that, with thermography, we can actually identify something wrong, before it becomes a life threatening disease and act on the variables that can prevent that to happen.
A mammogram can only detect cancer when there is already an existing mass, even if small. Studies suggest that thermography can actually indicate breast abnormalities up to 8 years before a mammogram could.
Lets highlight here that a Hot Spot is NOT (!) a breast cancer diagnosis.
Inflammation occurs in the breasts in many other cases like: lymph congestion, fibrocystic symptoms or even oestrogen dominance. A mammogram will not be suitable for identifying these cases. Mammograms also tend to present difficulties screening women with particularly dense breast tissue (usual in younger women) or in women with mammary prosthesis (breast implants). Thermography, because its screening is based on the tissue temperature, is suitable for both cases.
In conclusion, while the medical community gathers consensus on if mammograms can do more harm than good, it is actually your responsibility to make the best for your health. Knowing your options is the only way to make empowered informed decisions, whether that is to do a mammogram every year and accept the downsides of the process, or opt for other screening methods, that while not intending to replace a mammogram, offer you a valid, safe, non-invasive and pain free alternative of screening, until there is actually need for mammography.
For more information on Thermography or Genetic Screening, Contact SWC.