Despite the widespread use of mammography for breast cancer screening, the number of women who die from this disease has increased steadily over the past several decades. In the 1940's, only one out of every 22 women lost their lives to breast cancer, yet today the number has skyrocketed to one in eight. Mammograms have a questionable level of effectiveness and have been known to produce a significant number of false positive results which cause many women to pursue additional testing and unnecessary cancer treatment. As a result, regular mammograms are associated with an overall reduction in quality of life for women. Even if mammography actually does reduce the number of breast cancer related deaths, alternative technologies exist and provide much earlier detection with virtually no associated risk.
Various studies and reviews including those conducted at The Institute of Medicine (a non-profit subsector of the National Academy of Sciences) have clearly linked radiation received during mammography screening with an increase in the overall risk of developing breast cancer. Risk is cumulative and is especially prevalent in women who begin screening at an early age. The review concluded that at least 2,800 cases of breast cancer per year are directly related to radiation delivered to the breast during routine screening procedures. Some authorities also question the safety of breast compression which occurs during a mammogram, suggesting that the potential rupture of small blood vessels surrounding undetected tumors may facilitate the spread of malignant cancer cells.
Mammograms have been shown to produce up to six percent of false positive results. False positives generally result in women being exposed to additional screening/radiation followed by a biopsy, another method fraught with false positives. Surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments may be the end result; as many as 30 percent of women who undergo routine breast cancer screenings have been shown to be victims of overdiagnosis and overtreatment. This overtreatment is the basis for studies which have linked routine mammography with unnecessary stress and an overall reduction in quality of life. The impact of stress alone has long been associated with an increased disease risk and a shortened life span.
Medical Infrared Imaging, also known as thermography, uses infrared technology to detect extremely early changes in breast tissue which signal the development of cancerous growth. This type of screening shows a 90 percent sensitivity rating (compared to 80 percent for mammography) and is unaffected by hormone use, breast size, density or a woman's age (unlike mammography). With no radiation or compression involved, the associated risks are essentially zero. Thermograms which reveal a suspicious area can be followed up with an ultrasound screening (another radiation free screening tool) to further evaluate areas of concern. Because thermography identifies extremely subtle vascular changes, many women will have the option of making diet and lifestyle modifications to encourage the spontaneous remission of early cancerous growth.
Despite the perception that all cancerous tumors require aggressive treatment methods to encourage their regression, numerous researchers have verified that nearly one-third of all cancerous growths within breast tissue disappear over time, even without treatment. A growing body of evidence suggests that the level of immune function exhibited by each individual woman plays a critical role in whether or not her particular cancer will spontaneously disappear. Rather than resorting to the traditional use of radiation and chemotherapy, both of which are associated with a decline in immune function, should medical professionals focus on stimulation of the immune system as an alternative to more aggressive cancer treatments? This, coupled with safe methods of early detection (thermography and ultrasound) could serve to be a far superior method of breast cancer treatment.
Unfortunately, medical professionals rarely keep up with the science behind new and improved treatment methods for various diseases. Physicians have a tendency to remain set in older mindsets which can negatively impact countless numbers of individuals. In some areas, for example, women who choose to undergo thermography screening as an alternative to mammography are still forced to submit to a mammogram should they require the use of ultrasound technology after receiving a suspicious result from their original thermogram. This illogical treatment of patients may also be associated with high payouts received from insurance providers for traditional screening methods which are often followed by biopsy, surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation.
The reality is that most women have no idea that a safe, superior screening method to the traditional mammogram exists. Those that are aware are forced to pay for the procedure out of pocket, as insurance providers do not yet recognize thermography as a valid breast cancer screening method. Ultimately, there is a fine line between informed patient care and medical malpractice. If a medical professional is aware of a superior alternative therapy but chooses not to share this information due to the belief that it will negatively impact their bottom line, most people would agree that this is a form of medical negligence. Unfortunately, such instances happen every day to countless women seeking an alterative to the traditional mammogram.
There is much to be said about the amount of revenue generated from traditional cancer patients versus those who catch cancer at an extremely early stage and arrest its development with diet and lifestyle changes alone. Today more than ever, consumers must take the time to independently research the risks and benefits of any medical procedure under consideration. Whenever medical malpractice is suspected, prompt action including obtaining the legal advice of a qualified professional can make the difference between receiving financial compensation and being left with a stack of medical bills. Personal injury and/or wrongful death lawsuits may also encourage the long-term improvement in patient care and lead to better outcomes for all involved.