Breast cancer is a formidable adversary, affecting millions of women worldwide. The staggering numbers of 1:8 is climbing, expected to rise by 57% in the next 20 years, and impacting more and more young women.
Are you concerned about getting that 4-word call “You have breast cancer”?
Are you confused about what is the best screening option for you?? You’re not alone.
If you have been following me for long, you know that my focus is on prevention! Yet, early detection is important and is crucial for successful treatment and improved outcomes. Now, if you’re one of the like-minded women in my tribe, I know that you’re looking for better options than just a mammogram that smashes and radiates your breast. In this two-part blog series, I’m going to discuss various detection methods – some are very early and designed to ensure breast health (and thus why I use them in my functional medicine coaching with clients), and some are very late and dangerous.
Today, I’ll share 6 different screening methods: breast self-exams (BSE), mammography, ultrasound, MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), Thermography, and the new QT imaging. We’ll discuss the differences between them, their effectiveness, and their potential benefits in the detection of breast cancer.
NOTE: next week, I will discuss screening methods to ensure breast health. I’ll share the cutting-edge, early modalities that I use personally, and incorporate into my practice.
I remember the early days, many decades ago in my nursing career when we started teaching Breast Self-Exams (BSE). It’s true that most lumps are found by women (or perhaps the men in their lives), so this method is helpful. Yet even this is not an “early” detection method, as a lump may take 5-10 years to form before you can palpate it on your own.
Mammography is one of the most well-known and widely used breast cancer screening methods. It involves taking X-ray images of the breast tissue to detect abnormalities, such as tumors or cysts. Mammograms are recommended for women starting at the age of 40, although earlier screening may be recommended for those with a family history of breast cancer.
Breast ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of breast tissue. It is often used as a complementary screening tool when mammography results are inconclusive or for further evaluation of abnormalities found during a mammogram.
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
Breast MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create detailed images of the breast. It is often recommended for women at high risk of breast cancer due to factors such as a strong family history or known genetic mutations.
Thermography, also known as thermal imaging, is a non-invasive method that captures heat patterns emitted by the body. The abnormal heat patterns may indicate the presence of early physiological changes that might be indicative of a breast cancer pattern beginning to emerge. Its use as a standalone screening method is controversial in the Western medical environment. However, this is the tool that I have been using personally for over 15 years.
QT imaging is a new technology just released in 2023, that uses quantitative transmission ultrasound to create detailed images of breast tissue. It offers the promise of improved breast cancer detection without the use of ionizing radiation. This test uses a warm water bath with radio frequency to create detailed images of the breast tissue – with clarity of glands, ducts, blood vessels, and nerves.
Effectiveness and Recommendations
The effectiveness of breast cancer screening methods can vary based on individual factors, including breast density, age, and risk factors, including genetics, and epigenetics (diet and lifestyle).
The PINK campaign is still advocating for Mammograms to be the “gold standard” and suggests that women start these scans starting at age 40. I did have mammograms in my early 40’s. I did have false positives, and I did have to have a biopsy. I did go through the incredible psychological stress associated with all of that. Once I discovered Thermography, over 15 years ago, I do a thermogram every 6 months to detect changes. And I’m thrilled to say that when I did see changes that were indicative that my breast health was being compromised, I was alerted early. I chose an MRI, which revealed two lumps. I chose NOT to have a biopsy just in case it was malignant disease, I did not want it spread from an encapsulated area. I chose the Oncoblot blood test, which revealed these lumps were benign. (Praise the Lord!!) I did the necessary diet and lifestyle interventions, and 6 months later, the two lumps that I had were gone. GONE! In the ensuing 10 or more years, my thermogram continues to improve!
Early detection is critical to improve your treatment options if, indeed, you do have malignant breast disease. Ultimately, the choice of screening method should be made in consultation with your healthcare provider, taking into account your individual risk factors and preferences.
Again, next week, I will discuss the early, functional, healthy breast health screening methods that I use personally and recommend to my clients. These methods give you the power you deserve to have!! Stay tuned.
Additionally, I am hosting a FREE Breast HEALTH Awareness Webinar on October 25th. I’ll send more information next week. Seats are limited; thus, if you want to secure yours, register at https://LoriFinlay.com/breast-health. FYI, there will be bonuses for those who attend live.