Guest blog by Wendy Calver, registered nurse and medical thermographer
My name is Wendy Calver. After working as a registered nurse for over 35 years in the National Health Service in the UK, I went on to study reflexology and Reiki, using natural therapies to look after myself and my family for over 30 years. It was only natural for me to be rather excited when I found out about the uses and benefits of Medical Thermography. I trained as a medical thermographer and set up a practice in both Maidstone, Kent and in Eastbourne, East Sussex.
What is medical thermography?
Thermography is a medical investigatory procedure which has the unique ability to pick up the nervous system’s projection of disease, thereby alerting the individual that something is amiss. Using a non-contact infrared camera, thermography is able to capture and record any temperature variations on your skin.
It is not a diagnostic test or tool. Thermography can be used for breast health, regions of interest (places on your body that are causing you a concern), half body or full body scans. Thermography does not replace the role of any medical diagnostic devices available on the NHS, but it can be used beneficially in conjunction with the current available NHS services. Thermography does not diagnose cancer, but it can detect an increased blood supply (as found in cancers) called angiogenesis.
It is well documented in all fields of medicine that the earliest detection leads to the best possible outcome.
Thermograms from patients diagnosed with CFS Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia
What makes thermography different from mammography or other medical tests?
Mammography, MRI and x rays detect anatomical changes (in structure) but will miss things such as active inflammation or increased blood supply. In many diseases there are variations in blood flow which in turn affect the skin temperature.
The advantage of using thermography is that it can detect early danger signs in the body years before any other tools which are currently available. It is a non-invasive technique, which is radiation free. There is no need to use injections or dyes in the process.
A digital thermography camera photographs the amount of heat on the body’s surface. The digital images are then analysed using specialist software by one of our worldwide team of medical doctors who are additionally trained as specialist thermologists. The thermologist interprets the scans and highlights which steps the patient should take next.
How long does it take to have a medical thermogram done?
A thermography appointment takes approximately 30 minutes for a breast scan or region of interest (A particular area of concern, e.g. thyroid gland/symptoms.) It takes close to an hour for a full body scan. The full report will be sent to the patient via email within 72 hours of their appointment.
The scans are interpreted by doctors for doctors.
Thermography is a non-invasive test, so there is no flattening of the breasts in between two cold metal plates with pressure applied as with a mammogram. The thermographer does not need to touch any part of your body to take the images. It is a totally safe procedure. Just like having your photo taken. It can be used for annual health checks.
If a thermologist makes a recommendation for further investigation, this can be arranged straight away. Instead of something being detected at a much later date and not being able to do anything about it; or having a lengthy wait to go through sometimes painful investigations or treatment.
Thermography screening can be repeated as often as required with no risk. It is very suited for regular and frequent breast screening including post-surgery or during treatment or in cases where a patient might be unwilling to proceed with surgery. In that case the patient can be monitored via thermography.
Can thermography be used for children?
It can also be used on children to very good effect. Again, a totally 100% safe, pain free and hassle-free procedure.
Breast thermograms indicate if there are abnormal or cancerous cells present by detecting a separate blood supply. Thus detecting abnormalities much more quickly. Up to several years more quickly than a mammogram or scan.
From what age should a woman have a breast thermogram done?
Sadly, the incidence of breast cancer is rising worldwide, particularly in younger women, who do not normally have mammograms due to the density of their breasts. Thermograms are ideal from 18 years old onwards. Regular breast screening thermograms are recommended to keep a check on your breast health. If a mammogram picks up a tumour, this tumour is normally around 5-10 years old. Thermograms can detect cell changes in the breast very early on if a tumour is developing, by detecting abnormal blood vessel patterns (angiogenesis) and increased metabolic activity that gives off more heat than the surrounding tissue.
More and more women are having regular breast thermography scans as it is a completely safe and detailed procedure which shows cell changes at a much earlier stage compared to mammography. Women are able to take charge of their own bodies and their health. Thermography enables earlier intervention and gives the patient more options as regards their treatment. This also applies to men. The incidence of breast cancer amongst men is also rising.