An Overview of Breast Imaging
Jan 30, 2015 08:10PM
By Philip Getson, D.O., and Liesha Getson, BCTT, HHC
Philip Getson of Thermographic Diagnostic Imaging
The use of tomosynthesis (or 3D mammograms) yields two to three times more radiation than standard 2D mammograms according to Radiology.
In Switzerland, the medical board recommended the complete abolition of all mammographic screenings in 2004 as reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Mammography appears to be preventing only one death for every 1,000 women screened contrary to information previously disseminated in a study issued by the Swiss Medical Board. The British Medical Journal reported that while the BRCA½ gene is linked to breast cancer, women carrying it are particularly vulnerable to radiation. Women who carry this gene and were exposed to diagnostic radiation which included mammograms before the age of 30 were twice as likely to develop breast cancer compared to those who did not have it.
The risk of having a false positive mammogram when a woman undergoes 10 mammograms is 58 to 77 percent. In addition to unnecessary radiation-based testing, she’ll undergo unnecessary additional radiation-based testing, biopsies, surgeries, and significant psychological trauma. Mammograms are substantially less accurate in women with dense breasts causing 11 states to enact laws mandating that women be told that the mammogram wasn’t accurate because of the breast density and was in Congress in July of 2014 to recommend a national law mandating that all mammographic centers provide this information as reported in Cancer Epidemiology.
Despite the report of the group commissioned by the United States Government in 2011 recommending that mammographic screening not be done until the age of 50, most clinicians still urge their patients to begin doing so at 40. Further, the commission recommended eliminating breast self-exams, an essential part of the breast health screening protocol.
In this age of information technology, women are understanding that perhaps mammography is not all it was cut out to be and, in fact, may cause more harm than the benefit that it provides. They are seeking alternative breast screening studies.
Thermography or infrared imaging is a screening test that has been available to American women since 1957, over 10 years before mammography. Backed by over 1,000 peer-reviewed articles worldwide, it has stood the test of time. It is a totally safe, non-radiologic, non-compressive, screening modality that looks at the physiology as opposed to the anatomy of the breasts. The primary difference is that physiology looks at how the breasts work and, as such, can provide a much earlier indicator of breast disease than waiting until an anatomic test shows a lesion that will require intervention. Thermography allows for modifications of diet and lifestyle which have shown to improve the physiology of the body including the breasts. We’ve repeatedly seen visual evidence of improvement of breast physiology with such modifications utilizing thermographic imaging.
Thermographic Diagnostic Imaging (TDI), in Marlton, is trying to take some of the confusion and fear out of breast imaging. The cost of a thermographic examination at TDI includes the images, report to the patient and their healthcare practitioner and, when necessary, a one-on-one phone conference with Dr. Philip Getson. At TDI, we provide our patients with a universal claim form for their insurance carrier. At this time, approximately 35 percent of patients are getting reimbursed. Here’s some more information to help women make a decision as to which test is best for them: Other testing for breast disease includes ultrasound which utilizes sound waves to differentiate between solid from cystic masses without the radiation or compressive side effects. This is an excellent adjunct to thermography for enabling us to correlate thermal irregularities to potential anatomic lesions. We have developed a working relationship with several imaging facilities that will do an ultrasound without coercing the patient into having a mammogram.
The other anatomic test is an MRI, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, which uses high-powered magnets to separate the water molecules of the body, creating an image also without the use of radiation or compression. This is the newest anatomic test which unfortunately, due to the cost, is difficult to get authorized. At TDI we try to assist our patients with the approval process when necessary.
For the record, no test “diagnoses” breast cancer. The diagnosis is made under a microscope based upon tissue obtained from a biopsy or surgical excision. We now know, based upon statistical evidence over the last four years, that there are many false positives as well as lesions which meet the criteria of cancer but were technically “over-diagnosed”. Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, described the term over-diagnosis in cancer medicine as “a tumor that fulfills all laboratory criteria to be called cancer but, if left alone, would never cause harm. This is a tumor that will not continue to grow, spread, and kill. It’s a tumor that can be cured with treatment but doesn’t need to be treated and/or cured.”
Much has been written about DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ), causing great alarm and is responsible for 12 percent of all breast “cancers”. However, in 2013, a working group from the National Cancer Institute published an opinion in JAMA that stated that DCIS should be renamed to exclude the word carcinoma because, “Ductal carcinoma in situ is not cancer so why are we calling it cancer?” a quote from Dr. Laura J. Esserman, a breast cancer specialist in California. The decision on breast evaluation screening belongs to each individual. We should all be educated as to the benefits and risks of various forms of testing. One should be proactive in their health concerns and attempt to prevent breast disorders as early as possible. Changes in diet and lifestyle can make significant improvement in breast health and minimize and in some instances even forestall the presence of a breast cancer. However, if a cancer is diagnosed, each individual should educate themselves regarding the type of tumor they have and its potential for long-term harm, and then investigate all of their treatment options.
TDI uses state-of-the art, FDA-approved infrared technology which looks at the physiology of the breasts. It’s a totally safe, non-radiologic, noninvasive test. Dr. Getson, a board-certified thermologist, interprets all of the images and generates all of the reports. He also offers a phone conference with each patient to explain findings of the thermogram.