Beth on the Bright Side: Thermography Scans

By: Beth Duffy Email
By: Beth Duffy Email

October 12, 2009

The American Cancer Society says the number of cases of breast cancer has gone down over the years thanks to yearly screening and early education. In this week's Beth on the Bright Side, Beth Duffy learned more about a new piece of equipment, now in central Virginia, that is helping with early detection.

For years the military has used infrared lights to pick up the enemy on at night, and that technology may become more mainstream in terms of our health. In less than five minutes, a woman can better understand the health of her breasts thanks to a device that is now available in our area.

It's called thermography, and it looks at the physiological health of the breast, detecting patterns of heat.

"We can see angiogenesis, which is a creation of additional blood vessels within the breast that occurs when there's cancerous activities. You can see the activity of abnormal cells long before the actual tumor is there," said Thermography Technician, Cindy Stillwell.

Standing in a temperature and air-controlled room, the device, much like a digital camera, picks up certain points of heat. The films are then sent to a doctor who suggests the next course of action.

"Sometimes it's indicated that he just wants to see another thermogram to make sure the activity he's seeing. If that's strictly your body and how your body is or whether there's an increase in activity," said Stillwell.

Carolyn Hoffman, whose mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, says she is thrilled to see thermography in our area because six years ago, she had to travel to Minneapolis for the thermal imaging treatment.

"I felt that I wanted something that was going to be a tool for me to track of what was happening with my breast health. It's the same way people will use blood tests and use that data," said Hoffman, a thermography patient.

There is no radiation, no compression, and no physical contact with thermography. However, Stillwell points out that it still is not a substitute for a mammogram or MRI, rather it is just another tool to help women catch this disease early. Stillwell recommends starting the scans at age 20 and having them done every three years, and then yearly after age 35.

For more information you can call Core Health Thermography and Wellness at (434) 882-5468, or visit them at 5574 Richmond Road Suite 205, Troy, Virginia.

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