Can ya’ll believe that it’s October? I know that I can’t! October is always a really special month for me because it is Breast Cancer Awareness month. This is a cause that is very near and dear my heart because my mother was diagnosed when I was very young. I have grown up seeing and hearing all of the issues associated with this and I try my best to use my platform to help educate others on the topic. Throughout this month, you will learn important things associated with breast cancer and how to clean up your toxic load in the process. I am excited to share all of this with you and answer your questions as you have them.
One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime; 40 years ago, it was one in 10.
• Only half of these cases can be tied to traditional risk factors like genetic inheritance, diet, and reproductive history. That’s hundreds of thousands of women diagnosed with no known risk factors.
• Cancer susceptibility genes are estimated to account for only 5-10% of breast cancers overall.
• Another way of phrasing it: Approximately 90% of women diagnosed do not have a mutation in their
BRCA genes, which are the genes many people think of when they think of genetic predisposition to the disease.
Something that I really want to start off this month is the topic of mammograms. Women are told by their doctors that they need yearly check ups that include mammograms for breast cancer. A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breast. It can be used to check for breast cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms of the disease. It can also be used if you have a lump or other sign of breast cancer. Screening mammography is the type of mammogram that checks you when you have no symptoms. What many of us do not know, including myself until a few years ago are the dangers associated with mammograms.
There are some potential risks that are considered to be associated with mammography and mammograms. They include the following:
They require repeated exposure to radiation, which may cause a very small risk of cancer if used over a lifetime.
They can lead to non-invasive cancers being diagnosed and treated when treatment is not necessarily required.
They are not as effective for women with dense breast tissue or breast implants.
They can lead to women choosing double mastectomies as a preventive measure.
They have a high rate of false-positive results, which can result in unnecessary biopsies and additional screening. False-positive results are those that suggest that cancer is present when it is not.
Because of this, I started researching more on the topic and how to check for breast cancer and stay away from those risks. Various emerging technologies are now being suggested as alternative options for breast cancer screening. Among those are thermographs which I had never heard of before researching.
Thermography is a test that detects and records temperature changes on the surface of the skin. Digital infrared thermal imaging (DITI), a type of thermography used in the screening of breast cancer, uses an infrared thermal camera to take a picture of the areas of different temperature in the breasts. The camera displays these patterns as a sort of heat map. The presence of a cancerous growth is associated with the excessive formation of blood vessels and inflammation in the breast tissue. These show up on the infrared image as areas with a higher skin temperature.
In my opinion, the benefits of a thermograph out weigh the risks of a mammogram hands down.
Benefits are as follows:
It is a non-invasive, non-contact procedure, which does not compress the breast.
It does not involve exposure to radiation, and so it can be used safely over time.
It can detect vascular changes in breast tissue associated with breast cancer many years in advance of other methods of screening.
It can be used for all women, including those with dense breast tissue and breast implants.
Hormonal changes do not affect results.
The drawbacks are:
It has a high false-positive rate, which can result in the woman having to have the standard mammogram anyway.
It has a high false-negative rate, which can lead to avoidance of the standard mammogram as a woman may feel she has been adequately screened.
It is rarely covered by medical insurance.
Now, I can go deeper into why medical insurance isn’t covering these but I will save that for later. I can say, do your own research about the medical field. See for yourself why they cover the things that they do. If you’d like to have a private conversation about it with me, I would be more than happy to share what I’ve learned. The importance of the matter is that women need to get checked because breast cancer is becoming more and more common as the years pass.
Throughout the month of October, I will continue to share more about breast cancer and important information associated with the topic! Please follow along and let me know if you do have a personal connection to this like I do. I would love to chat with you.
American Cancer Society. (2009, November 16). American Cancer Society responds to changes to USPSTF mammography guidelines [Press release]. Retrieved from http://pressroom.cancer.org/index.php?s=43&item=201
American College of Radiology. (2015, October 20). ACR and SBI continue to recommend regular mammography starting at age 40 [Press release]. Retrieved from https://www.acr.org/About-Us/Media-Center/Press-Releases/2015-Press-Releases/20151020-ACR-SBI-Recommend-Mammography-at-Age-40
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Fitzgerald, A., & Berentson-Shaw, J. (2012, March 9). Thermography as a screening and diagnostic tool: A systematic review. The New Zealand Medical Journal, 125(1351), 80-91. Retrieved from https://www.nzma.org.nz/journal/read-the-journal/all-issues/2010-2019/2012/vol-125-no-1351/articel-fitzgerald
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Mammography/thermography/ultrasound: What’s the difference? (2016, June 20). Retrieved from http://www.breastthermography.com/mammography_thermography.htm
Oeffinger, K. C., Fontham, E. T. H., Etzioni, R., Herzig, A., Michaelson, J. S., Shih, Y. T., … Wender, R. (2015, October 20). Breast cancer screening for women at average risk: 2015 guideline update from the American Cancer Society. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 314(15), 1599-1614. Retrieved from http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2463262
Pace, L. E., & Keating, N. L. (2014, April 2). A systematic assessment of benefits and risks to guide breast cancer screening decisions. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 311(13), 1327-1335. Retrieved from http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/1853165?alert=1
Tosteson, A. N. A., Fryback, D. G., Hammond, C. S., Hanna, L. G., Grove, M. R., Brown, M., … Pisano, E. D. (2014, June). Consequences of false-positive screening mammograms. The Journal of the American Medical Association: Internal Medicine, 174(6), 954-961. Retrieved from http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1861037?__hstc=77786379.8e24bce7c0af0efdd41a653140fecad2.1467158400053.1467158400054.1467158400055.1&__hssc=77786379.1.1467158400056&__hsfp=3105786926
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2014, June 10). FDA safety communication: Breast cancer screening – thermography is not an alternative to mammography [Press release]. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/Safety/AlertsandNotices/ucm257259.htm
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. (2009, November 17). Screening for breast cancer: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Annals of Internal Medicine, 151(10), 716-726. Retrieved from http://annals.org/aim/article/745237/screening-breast-cancer-u-s-preventive-services-task-force-recommendation