The first article in a series to answer in detail why certain questions are asked on your thermography intake forms.
“Do you have a close relative who had/has breast cancer? [ ] Yes [ ] No (Mom/Daughter/Sister)”
Do you have a close relative who had/has breast cancer? This question is posed first on the third page of your intake questionnaire when starting thermography with Insight Holistic Imaging, but few know why this information is truly important and how it can change how you determine your best course of action for monitoring your own breast health.
Mothers/Daughters/Sisters are “first-degree” relations to you and their health risks are a consideration to your own health at this level (Aunts, grandmothers or cousins are not first-degree risks). A first-degree relation is a family member who shares about 50% of their genes with you. Even though not everyone has a genetic component (BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene) that can indicate a great concern for breast cancer risk, it is still important to acknowledge that the health of a first-degree relation may have a connection to your own health.
Sadly, there is not a single screening available that can provide 100% accuracy in determining if a cancer has developed in the breast. All single mode screenings (thermography, mammograms, ultrasounds and MRI’s) are between 85-87% in accuracy when providing results – yes, even the mammogram!  A solid baseline in thermography can be an excellent first-line of defense where non-invasive screening is concerned in providing feedback if a change in heat patterning occurs, but that may not be enough for some with a first-degree family risk.
If your answer to this question is “yes” on your intake, it is imperative that you consider covering all the bases that you can for monitoring your breast health based on today’s technology. To really boost the accuracy of monitoring your breast health, combining thermography with a structural screening (mammogram/ultrasound/MRI) may be your best course of action and can boost your accuracy rating to 97%. 
The inclusion specifically of ultrasound provides a very non-invasive way to screen for structure (abnormal tissue) in the breast. Knowing if and where structure resides in either breast can mitigate fear and panic down the road should unwanted breast symptoms develop. Here’s how the combination of screenings can do that for you:
- Establish a solid baseline initially (two screenings within 3-6 months of one another and the “all clear” for annual screening in your report).
- Continue to monitor your heat patterning for stability every year with thermography imaging.
- Continued stable heat patterning from year to year means no activity or imbalance is seen in your imaging of concern, even if structure (i.e. abnormal tissue) exists in the breast.
- Monitors and reviews all tissue present in the breast during imaging.
- Any structure in the breast can be considered “abnormal” but may not represent a credible threat based on the way it presents (slow growth, smooth edging, etc.). Most structure is benign in nature and is of little to no concern.
- Any structure seen can be measured and documented through imaging for comparison whenever ultrasound imaging is done again in the future.
In this combined imagery while it is that structure exists (ultrasound confirmed), there may be no need for concern (thermography confirmed). Likewise, if activity is seen through thermography at some point and it is in the area of known structure, this can be a very early indication that an imbalance is brewing, and you would need to pay close attention.
What would the screening recommendations be
then based on my history?
If you answered “YES” to this question:
It is strongly recommended for women with a first-degree relation that has or has had breast cancer that a structural screening be done at the very least every 3-4 years in conjunction with annual thermographic imaging.
If you answered “NO” to this question:
Even for women without a first-degree family risk, consideration of a structural screening every 5 years in conjunction with their thermography is a prudent plan. Again, because a single screening is only 85-87% accurate in its results. 
If you need guidance in determining how to plan your breast cancer prevention strategy based on your intake history, Insight Holistic Imaging can help. By discussing your intake in more detail, guidance can be given to help you make a solid plan that will help to keep your cancer risk low and give you better peace of mind in monitoring your health for years to come. The comparative breast screening (second screening to set your baseline) will include extra time to discuss your history in detail with your technician and help you determine your best course of action. If you are already an annual screener and you have answered “yes” at some point to a first-degree relation having or having had breast cancer and you would like more information and guidance on creating a more solid plan for preventative screening, please call or ask for additional time on your next screening appointment.
 Diakides, N., & Bronzino, J. (2008) Medical Infrared Imaging. Chapter 9.3. Boca Raton, FL. CRC Press.