The American Cancer Society recommends that all women age 45 and older get an annual mammogram to screen for breast cancer. Prior to that, women who notice any changes in the look and feel of their breasts should undergo a mammogram as well. Mammography utilizes X-rays to identify anatomical changes in breast tissue that occur as a result of tumor growth. It is by far the most well-known screening method for breast cancer, but it’s not the only one.
Another technique called thermography screens for breast cancer by detecting physiological changes in breast tissue, rather than anatomical ones. Specifically, thermography detects changes in heat and blood flow that are indicative of tumor growth. Once a tumor reaches a certain size, it must start generating its own blood supply in a process called angiogenesis. This, in turn, generates heat, which is detectable with thermography.
Whereas a mammogram can only detect a tumor once it has been growing for several years, thermography can sometimes detect abnormal cell activity much earlier. If a tumor is detected early on with thermography, it can often be treated without invasive surgery. Both screening techniques can also be used in conjunction with one another to confirm the presence of a tumor.
Bear in mind that neither of these techniques can diagnose cancer. Mammography and thermography can identify signs of breast cancer, but only a biopsy can offer a definitive diagnosis.
Interested in learning more about breast cancer screening options? Give us a call to speak with the healthcare professionals at South Avenue Women’s Services today.