Docs advocate safer, painless way to examine breast cancer

Nov 07, 2011, 09:26 IST | Priyankka Deshpande

City oncologists recommend thermography instead of mammography for early detection of breast cancer; patients need not undergo the procedure every year, machine can be used on younger patients as well

The early detection of breast cancer can be possible through thermography, also known as 'no touch breast scan screening process', which can be a safer and better option than mammography, confirmed city oncologists. The city got its first thermography machine last year, which is approved by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of USA. However, lack of awareness among the people about this machine is refraining them from opting for it.

hassle-free: City's only thermography machine is located at the Gupte
Hospital on Bhandarkar Road. PIC/Ishan Ghosh

City-based oncologist, Dr Shekhar Kulkarni, who established a breast cancer support group 'Aastha' about ten years ago, said, "In the last five years, the number of new cases of breast cancer has increased by 30 per cent. In such cases, regular checkups have become necessary. "Although thermography is not a replacement for mammography, it can still be a painless and a better option."

Safe procedure
Dr Kulkarni further added that the thermography is a comfortable and safe procedure that does not use radiation or compression.  It examines the changes in the temperature and blood vessels of breasts, and signs of possible cancer or pre-cancerous cell growth.

Because of breast thermography's extreme sensitivity, the earliest detection of cancer can be possible. While in the case of mammography, which has to be done every year, there is high risk of side effects due to the radiations it releases, Dr Kulkarni said.

It has also been observed that the high radiation released through the mammography machine itself is responsible for the cancer. The procedure is also extremely painful making patients refrain from undergoing the examination procedure. The important benefit of thermography is that it can be used for younger patients, which cannot be done through mammography, the doctor informed.

Only four machines
There are only four thermography machines in India. Apart from the Gupte Hospital in Pune, the machines are in Mumbai, Thane and Ahmedabad. Dr Chetan Deshmukh of Deenanath Hospital, said, "Thermography is not diagnosis, it's only the detection. However, it's relatively safer and a cheaper option than mammography."

Painless procedure
Some of the breast cancer patients also told MiD DAY that they hesitate to undergo mammography as its not only painful, but also uncomfortable. Aparna Ambike, who has been undergoing mammography since past 18 years said, "My doctor told me about this new machine and I found it extremely safe and comfortable than

Merits of thermography
According to oncologists, Thermography alerts women early enough to begin the process of actually reversing the abnormal development, before it even becomes a tumor. Thermography uses no compression or radiation, so it is safe, non-invasive and painless.

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