Today’s story is a little odd. But it also deals with a critically important subject that my patients and readers care deeply about. So let me just set the scene and go from there.
I recently came across an article about a woman who was visiting a Scottish theme park with her family. They were playing around with the heat camera when she noticed a strange, bright-colored spot on her breast in one of the images.
She booked an appointment with her doctor when she got home. And lo and behold, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Crazy, right?
Well as I’ll explain in a moment, it actually isn’t half as wild as it sounds…
Hunt cancer with heat
This type of thermal imaging is also called thermography. And if it sounds familiar, that’s probably because a lot of women opt to use it for breast imaging.
Thermography detects unusual patterns of heat and blood flow that characterizes tumor growth. Unlike mammography, it isn’t uncomfortable and it doesn’t involve radiation. And as this story demonstrates, it certainly has value. Indeed, this woman was thrilled to have her cancer detected at such an early stage by a harmless heat camera.
But as always, there are detractors out there. And the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has had it out for thermography from the beginning.
They insist that mammograms are still the best way to screen for breast cancer. And they claim that the science simply doesn’t support thermography as an alternative.
In fact, they’ve recently issued an official warning to doctors and device makers alike—advising them not to push thermography as a replacement for more traditional screening methods.
Their recommendation is based on the lack of current research supporting thermography for the detection of breast cancer. And do you want to know why this gap in data exists? Because that’s exactly how the FDA wants it.
I’m all for avoiding false claims, and being upfront about thermography’s limitations. But I’m also fiercely in favor of freedom in healthcare. And while the FDA is supposed to work for the American people, their priority has always been to defend the status quo above all else.
What smart screening looks like
Since breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide, I would want to use any and every modality possible for screening. That includes (but isn’t limited to) thermography.
And it also includes mammograms. But not every year, unless you happen to be high risk.
In fact, this guideline bears repeating: Experts recommend that, if you’re 50 to 74 years old and only have an average risk of developing breast cancer, you should get a mammogram every two years.
If you’re between 40 and 49 years old, then you should talk to your doctor about when to schedule your first mammogram, and how often to continue getting them. Because it’s a very personal risk versus benefit discussion at this point.
As for where thermography fits into the picture, I don’t often write about it for the same reasons the FDA cites—there’s just not a lot of research out there yet.
However, I do think that if women were offered a number of options outside of the mammogram—whether it’s ultrasound, MRI, or thermography—then more of them would get screened routinely. And isn’t that the whole point?
The FDA’s love affair with their own dogma limits women’s access to the health care they choose. And needless to say, the only person who should ever be calling the shots where your body is concerned… is you.
P.S. Helping to give you—the patient—the power and knowledge you deserve about your own health is of utmost importance to me. That’s why I developed my Essential Cancer Protocol. This step-by-step guide provides simple, science-backed strategies to fortify your cellular defenses—and stop cancer in its tracks. To learn more, or to enroll today, click here now!
“Theme Park Thermal Camera Helps Spot Breast Cancer.” Medscape Medical News, 10/30/19. (medscape.com/viewarticle/920569)