October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There are many strateg ies that women can use to increase the odds of keeping their breasts healthy as they age. In addition to eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and getting plenty of sleep, it is recommended that self-exams be performed monthly in the shower and clinical breast exams and screenings be carried out through a physician.
Currently, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends a mammography screening, with or without a clinical exam, every one to two years for women ages 40 and older. Mammography is a procedure that uses radiation to examine breast anatomy to detect abnormalities that can include masses, lumps and calcifications in breast tissue. Information provided by the Susan G. Komen organization states that mammograms have an accuracy rate of 80 to 85 percent and are less accurate for women with dense or fibrocystic breast tissue. Any abnormalities found on a regular mammogram may then be followed up with a diagnostic mammogram, MRI or ultrasound.
Another technique used to examine the breast is thermography. Breast thermography is a non-invasive procedure that uses an infrared camera to record temperature distribution by detecting heat emitted from the skin. Thermography examines tissue physiology and can detect functional abnormalities like inflammation in breast and lymph tissue five to 10 years before a mammogram will detect a mass or lump in the breast.
Thermography is ideally used in conjunction with regular mammograms or ultrasound and should be done under the supervision of a physician. To establish a baseline, a series of two thermography sessions are spaced three months apart.
Source: Ruthie Harper, M.D., board-certified internist and founder of Nutritional Medicine Associates. Her clinic will be offering breast thermography in January 2017. For more information, call 512-343-9355 or visit RuthieHarper.com.