Thermography, Mammography or Ultrasound? Part 1
- Sunday, 02 December 2007
One of the most frequent questions I am asked as a clinical thermographer is: “What exactly is the difference between mammography, ultrasound, and thermography?”
There seems to be some confusion on this subject. Many people think that one test replaces the others, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Thermography images the breast and surrounding area and provides us with risk assessment, while mammography and ultrasound detect structural abnormalities.
If a breast abnormality is found that could possibly be malignant, a biopsy is performed. A biopsy removes a tissue sample for examination under a microscope.
Many women, after their initial assessment with thermography, may be asked to follow up either with an ultrasound or mammogram or both to rule out the existing pathology.
Frequently some will be relieved that their mammogram or ultrasound test results show no abnormal findings, however this does not necessarily mean that nothing is going on with their breasts. Several other factors may be contributing to a high risk (abnormal) thermogram, such as:
- hormonal imbalance
- early angiogenesis (proliferation of blood vessels)
- lymphatic swellings
- poor lymphatic function
- other contributing factors
All of these are important contributors to breast disease and malignancy; they are not detected by mammography or ultrasound, as these factors do not appear as structural changes. Over the new few weeks, I will clearly set out the pros and cons of each type of test.