Healthy Breast Care, Examination and Imaging

BY: DR. TORY JACKSON

Breast tissue undergoes many changes throughout the seasons of our lives.

Regular self-examination is a way to detect subtle and early changes in breast tissue. The earlier we share findings of tissue changes with our health care provider, the better outcomes there are with treatment if there are concerns.

For personal health care, a monthly BSE (Breast Self Exam) is best used in combination with an annual clinical breast exam performed by your ND or MD, in addition to annual thermography imaging.

Mammography has a 85%-90% sensitivity to pick up abnormalities for women over 50 years.  For women between 40 and 50, sensitivity is less, about 75%. For this age group, mammography will miss 1 in 4 breast cancers. This is the most important reason why breast exams (both self-performed and clinical) are needed to fill in for the misses with mammography.

Women with higher risk factors should consider mammography every 2 years. An ultrasound may be required if the mammogram shows tissue areas that are questionable or difficult to see. This testing should be preceded by performing regular BSE, a yearly clinical breast exam  and yearly thermography imaging.

Thermography does not detect cancerous tumors.  Thermography imaging has been shown to detect physiological changes (metabolic and vascular) that have been documented to correspond with increased incidence of breast cancers. A positive test is a well-established risk factor for existing or breast cancer development (10x more than family history/genetics.

Dr. Jackson has developed a new Breast Health Program at ANMC open to all patients. The program includes educational seminars where we discuss risk factors, healthy breast practices and BSE instruction. All doctors at ANMC are available to perform clinical breast exams and thermography screening.

Watch for upcoming seminars on our website or call the clinic to inquire about your personal annual screening and breast health care.

Differences Between Mammography, Thermography and UltraSound

 Mammography (X-Ray)Thermography / Medical Infrared ImagingUltrasound
What is it?X-ray images,

Shows dense structures

Detects surface temperature as a byproduct of chemical and vascular activityHigh frequency sound waves are bounced off breast tissue, producing an image
What does it measure?Structural Imaging.

Detects tissue that may be questionable due to density differences.

Functional tissue imaging. Temperature in both pre-cancerous tissue and the area surrounding a developing breast cancer is almost always higher than in the normal breast.

Detects physiologic changes. Does not locate exact area of breast that is suspicious

Structural imaging. Detects an area that may be questionable.
Detection

 

Early detection methodEarly detection method, provides functional information on h=temperature and vascular changes of the tissue. These functional changes are thought to change before the onset of structural changes that occur in a diseased or cancerous state.

Used in addition to other imaging.

Good at distinguishing between solid masses and fluid-filled cysts. Used in addition to other imaging.
Positive findingsFindings can alert suspicionFindings can increase suspicion of tissue changesFindings can increase suspicion
DiagnosisCannot diagnose tumors as cancerousCannot diagnose cancer, only functional variationsCannot diagnose cancer.
What is used for a cancer diagnosis?A tissue biopsy is the only test that can determine if a suspected tissue area is cancerous.
ProsCan detect tumors in the pre-invasive stageMay provide the first indication of changes to breast tissue prior to tumor formation.Ability to detect some problematic areas not detected by mammography

-helpful to detect problem tissues in dense breasts

SensitivityWomen > 50:

80% Sensitivity (20% of cancers not detected)

Women <50:

Sensitivity less than 80%.

All age groups:

90% Sensitivity (10% tumors undetected)

All age groups:

83% Sensitivity (17% of tumors not detected)

Hormone effects on imagingHormone used decreases sensitivityHormone use has no known effect on  sensitivity.Hormone use has no known effect on  sensitivity.
ConsObstacles to interpretation:

-large, dense and fibrocystic breasts

-risk of rupture

-radiation exposure

No obstacles to interpret testNo obstacles to interpret test