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We often get calls from women who have recently found a lump in their breast, and would like to have a thermography.

They have heard that thermography is “better” than a mammogram and would like to use the screening for their newly discovered breast lump.

At that point, we need to explain the difference between what we see with breast thermography and what a mammogram or ultrasound can see.

First, we will explain the difference between anatomy and physiology.

Anatomy is the structure of your body, like the muscle of your heart and the valves.

Physiology is the function of your body, like the heart pumping blood through your body.

Thermography is a wonderful tool to stay well, because we are looking at cellular activity or physiology. This gives the patient the opportunity to see very early changes, many times before the breast has developed a lump, and make necessary lifestyle changes to correct the course of their health.

However, the infrared scan cannot see an anatomical structure like a lump or a cyst. That is where a test of anatomy comes in, like a mammogram or ultrasound or MRI.

The benefit of starting thermography before a lump is felt is to keep an eye on our health, and make a course correction as needed. I think of it as a GPS. If you want to get to one place and start to go down the wrong road, you make a different turn before you arrive at the wrong destination. In this case, a problem with your health instead of vibrant wellness.

Once there is a lump, we can keep an eye on any changes in the activity (or physiology) of the area. However, and this is a big however, there are some things that are invisible to thermography. Like mammograms, MRI’s and ultrasound, no test is 100%. In about 17% of the cases, the body in its wisdom has encapsulated or walled off the tumor. Or the blood flow has changed. For this reason, we always want to look the anatomy of the lump at least once while doing breast thermography.

It is also why we encourage our clients to have an annual clinical exam of anatomy. This can be physical manual breast exam by a qualified and experienced healthcare provider yearly, if that is what you and your practitioner agree on.

Then you may ask, why should I even have a thermogram if I need to have another test as well?

Staying well is always the best option. Why wait for time to go by, when you could be identifying possible problems and making changes? Even if you have a lump, it’s helpful to know the activity level and to have a baseline to monitor your treatments.

Remember, it is important to do additional testing with a lump and if someone tells you it’s not necessary because a one-time thermogram looks normal, do it anyway. It’s difficult to move forward sometimes when we are worried. Ultimately, it’s your life and you are worth one more test.