12 October 2010

Think Pink: Breast Tests

I don't know about you, but I am in no way looking forward to the first time I have to be "embraced" by one of these:

Image found at http://www.cancerquest.org/

If you are unfamiliar with this contraption, it's a mammography machine.  Get familiar. You'll be up close and personal with one soon enough.

Or will you?

Over recent years, breast cancer awareness campaigns have championed the concept of early detection. Particular emphasis has been placed on self-examination and annual mammograms after age 40. The sooner you find the lump, the more quickly you can undergo treatment and be back on the road to a healthy life.  That's the concept.

However, there has been some Great Mammogram Debate in medical and scientific circles as of late.  Mammography is (a) uncomfortable at the least, (b) painful at most, (c) essentially pumping carcinogenic radiation directly into your breasts, and therefore possibly contradictory to its purpose.

Fortunately, though, all of those rallies, phone banks, and races for the cure have funded research and development of new avenues for cancer detection.

Christiane Northrop, MD and best-selling author, suggests thermography-- heat imaging of a patient's body.  It is a painless, safe assesment tool with the "ability to spot anamolies years before mammography," she says in her article in The Huffington Post. Nortrop says thermography can detect cellular discrepancies before tumors have had the chance to develop, which could give patients the chance to make lifestyle adjustments and possibly develop defenses against tumor development.  I'm no medical professional, but I like those odds.  Click here to read Dr. Northrop's full article. 

I was intrigued when I saw a newscast last night about a breast cancer breath test.  The experimental test uses what looks like a police breathalizer to detect organic compounds in a patient's breath and pinpoints those linked to breast cancer development.  While the test is not anticipated to replace mammography, it may be used to identify patients who may need mammograms before the suggest age of 50-- particularly those with a family history of the disease.  View the abc broadcast and full article here.

However you and your physician choose to perform your breast tests, it is important to be armed with information and to develop a strategy for prevention.

Know the facts. Know yourself. Test Early.

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