Breast Cancer Prevention or Detection: What Women Really Want

We hear so much about the importance of early detection for breast cancer to "save lives," but women really want to know how to prevent breast cancer. Early detection is not prevention. Prevention is supported through breast health education, risk factor awareness, and lifestyle modification. Now more than ever, women can capitalize on the preventive resources and tools available on their journeys to better breast health.

Any test that looks for cancer, even early, is an "after the fact" test: cancer has already developed. Women don't just want to detect breast cancer early: they want to prevent it. Women need a "before the fact" test.

Detection Focus

"After the Fact" tests look for signs suggestive of cancer:

  • Mammography, Thermography, Ultrasound
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Breast Specific Gamma Imaging (BSGI)
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET Scan)

Prevention Focus

"Before the Fact" tests look for signs suggestive of cancer's pre-cursors / risk factors causing inflammation:

  • Risk Assessing Thermal Imaging (RATI)

While none of the above-listed tests are truly diagnostic without a tissue sample (i.e. biopsy), many medical doctors think thermography and RATI are diagnostic. But they are mistaken since no tissue samples are collected for diagnosis! In an effort to educate the public:

RATI is a risk assessment tool... not a diagnostic test.

It is an elective and educational service that supports prevention.

Not all thermography is the same, and few thermographers provide RATI, providing Thermobiological Risk Ratings on a scale of 1-5 for each breast.

The benefit of RATI lies in its ability to observe potential inflammatory processes in the breasts (and body) early enough to intervene and reverse risk factors, thereby reducing the risk for cancer's development. (Of course RATI supports early detection, too.) RATI helps women to visualize inflammation in the breasts due to potential risk factors for breast cancer such as lymphatic congestion, systemic inflammation, and/or excess estrogen stimulation.

Since the causes of inflammation and effective risk reduction strategies are unique to each individual, it is important to individualize the education and prevention strategies for each woman based on her thermobiological findings, symptoms, lifestyle, history, intuition, and common sense, with functional medicine specialists providing an instrumental role in evaluation and development of intervention / prevention plans.

When risk factors are suspect, risk factor management can ensue with educational support and professional healthcare guidance. The book, Better Breast Health – for Life! covers 35 risk factors with strategies typically involving modifications to diet, lifestyle, stress management and detoxification, which are recommended under the guidance of qualified functional healthcare providers in the local community.

Nearly 80% of women who follow their initial RATI session with risk reduction strategies see a decrease in inflammation and the thermal findings associated with breast cancer risk in their subsequent RATI session.

Reducing risk isn't rocket science, but requires action with patience and persistence.

Although mammography is referred to as the "gold standard" for breast cancer screening, breast thermography is becoming more commonplace, with Dr. Christiane Northrup referring to it as "The Best Breast Test" in part because of its ability to "detect breast cell anomalies long before mammography can detect cancer".

Is a woman's breast cancer risk factor identification, education, and management her best offense towards prevention? The potential is certainly empowering and counter to the myth that women are powerless... just waiting to be diagnosed with breast cancer.

breastthermalimagebeforeafter.jpg

Image courtesy of Tirza Derflinger

Comparison of breast thermal images before (left) and after (right) treatment; note change in lymphatic congestion in circled area.

This 54 year old client had no breast complaints, and was post menopausal. Her initial breast series included the thermal image at left, which includes an assymetrical vascularity in the left breast, circled. The thermal findings associated with this vascularity contributed to a left breast rating of TH 4.

Because the client was already working with an acupuncturist and suspected lymphatic congestion, she asked her acupuncturist to focus on clearing the left breast. The thermal image at right resulted 5 months later.

Based on observation, lymphatic congestion appears to be the most common risk factor in women's breasts. And particularly the left breast, probably because most of us are right-handed and don't move the left side (muscles or lymphatics) as much as the right side, and because the lymphatics can drain more to the left side.

For more information on RATI in Colorado and the book, Better Breast Health – for Life!, visit the Thermogram Center or call 303-664-1139.

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