International Women’s Day focus: Thermography in breast care
“Few women understand how tremendously beneficial it is for them to add thermal imaging to their breast care regimen.”
Elsa Kruger, Thermal Health Solutions (Centurion)
It has been said that “breast cancer is not just an October issue” and statistics prove that. Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women in South Africa, and together with cervical cancer, constitutes the leading cause of cancer death, according to The Cancer Association of South Africa (2018).
Small wonder, then, that breast cancer awareness is a vital element of women’s health. On 8 March, countries around the world used the opportunity provided by International Women’s Day to promote projects to fight breast cancer. In this article, we look at the role of thermography in breast cancer detection.
What is thermography?
Thermography, or thermal imaging, is a non-invasive, painless test that uses an infrared camera to take images of your breasts. The images show up in different colours reflecting temperature variations.
As cancer cells multiply, they need more oxygen-rich blood to grow. When blood flow to the tumour increases, the temperature around it rises. Red areas are a marker for inflammation, acting as an alert for further investigation.
Breast cancer detection
Elsa Kruger, of Thermal Health Solutions (Centurion), says that thermography has been used as an adjunct to mammography to help detect breast cancer ever since it was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1982.
“However, few women understand how tremendously beneficial it is for them to add thermal imaging to their breast care regimen,” she says.
She notes that the standard recommendation in South Africa is for all women to start regular mammography from age 40. However, cancer also occurs in younger women and is generally more aggressive when it appears at a younger age.”
For this reason, it is widely recommended that every woman should have a baseline thermographic scan taken as from puberty (age 16 – 18 years in girls).
“Thermographic images of breasts are just like ‘thermal fingerprints’,” she says. “And just like a fingerprint, it is unique to each individual. All follow up examinations will be compared to the first, baseline image, which provides a good indication of your risk for breast cancer according to an internationally recognised scale, and also of positive or negative changes that may be occurring in your breasts over time.”
Flag changes early
Dr Jana Mostert, who provides reports on the thermographic images from Thermal Imaging Solutions in Centurion, recommends annual thermal imaging. “This can flag changes in breast health early to make early treatment possible,” she says.
Sandton-based homeopath and functional medicine doctor, Dr Jaci Schultz, also supports the use of thermal imaging in breast care and regularly refers patients to Thermal Health Solutions Centurion.
“Thermography can never replace a mammogram,” she emphasises, “but for many women, regular mammography screening may simply not be affordable. Thermography provides them with an affordable, non-invasive solution to help in advance detection of any pathology in their breasts.
“Then, there are women who remain cautious about the radiation associated with mammograms and simply refuse to have them, unless and until it is shown to be absolutely necessary for them,” she notes.
“Thermography offers these women an alternative – and it’s safe enough for women to have one even every six months. It will pick up any changes that show inflammation, a marker for tumours, which will indicate the need for further investigation.”
Further uses of thermography
Thermal imaging is not limited to managing breast health, but can assist in effectively detecting and monitoring a number of diseases and physical injuries, including nerve damage, inflammatory pain, skin and other cancers, breast disease, unexplained pain, back injuries, arthritis, dental and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and muscle disorders, vascular disease, carpal tunnel syndrome, referred pain syndrome, stroke screening, digestive disorders, sports injuries, muscle pain / injuries and more.
For more information or to book your scan, contact Elsa Kruger
Thermal Health Solutions (Centurion)
Cell No: 082 441 6850