With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I thought I’d share my experience with thermography, a less heard of alternative to scan for breast cancer. Did you know there are more options than a typical 2D mammogram to detect breast cancer? There are 3D mammograms, ultrasounds, and thermographs. In my experience with thermography, I learned that thermographs use less radiation than mammograms and are completely painless as the camera never touches your skin. Thermographs detect subtle changes as well as emerging blood vessels that may be feeding a tumor.
Most insurances do not cover thermography even though it’s been FDA-cleared since 1984, but most HSA/FSA cards do allow for it. My FSA paid the $250 which included the appointment, interpretation, and follow-up call. Of course, the cost may vary depending on where you go and what option you choose.
Earlier this year I had my first thermography appointment at Keep Cool Thermography located in Dirt Juicery in Suamico, WI. Melissa Huguet is a Certified Thermal Technician and is very knowledgeable and personable. She emailed me the protocol for the day prior to my appointment which includes avoiding actions that affect body temperature such as baths or shaving of areas being photographed for 24 hours prior to the exam as well as the day of the exam requires no exercise, smoking, lotion, deodorant, or caffeine.
Once I arrived, Melissa led me to her office where she photographs with an infrared camera scientifically based on military technology. I did have to stand topless with my armpits airing out for a few minutes to acclimate to the room (she positioned my arms on a chair so it was comfortable). All of this ensures the results are accurate. Once acclimated, several pictures were taken and then sent to the radiologist who interprets the results. The whole process was less than an hour. BONUS!! Having thermography completed at Dirt Juicery includes a FREE smoothie!
Within a week or so of my thermograph, Melissa emailed a copy of my report from the doctor and booked a call with me to go over my results.
The results were mostly good, but I had some temperature differences between my breasts which were slightly concerning. I then opted for my first mammogram a few weeks later, as recommended by Melissa. My insurance covered a 3D mammogram which showed no issues and is preferable compared to a 2D mammogram as it shows more details. Now I have baselines for both, although I much prefer thermography as it was completely painless. I plan to do a follow-up thermography appointment yearly. I am so thankful there are many ways to help detect breast cancer, but I truly did not mind my thermography experience.
Another local place is Ash & Mint Thermography owned by Nicole and located in DePere. They offer Breast Region, Upper Body, and Full Body scans. You can read more on thermography as written by Melissa here. Also, the American College of Clinical Thermography (ACCT) suggests an annual thermography screening, mammography when appropriate, and regular breast exams according to this research.
You can also read Jennifer’s story about her personal breast cancer journey.