Heat-Seeking Prevention: Quick and Painless Early Detection
Mar 28, 2012 04:14PM
● By John D'Auria
Lynda Witt and Proactive Health Solutions are using thermal imaging to help women discover abnormal growths before they become an issue.
Breast cancer is an epidemic that has evolved and spread so much that each person reading this article most likely knows someone that has been affected by the disease. While it is only second to lung cancer in frequency, breast cancer accounts for more than 10 percent of all cancer cases in the world. While early prevention is the only safe way to take on such a daunting and deadly disease, mammograms and selftests aren’t always 100 percent accurate. While the most common symptom of breasts cancer can be observed as an abnormal lump or mass in the chest, some symptoms arise as changes in the shape, size or color of the breast.
While mammograms have always been the standard, albeit very uncomfortable and often painful, method for staying alert to any physiological changes to breasts, their inaccuracy can lead to unnoticed growths that could possibly be harmful if not caught in time. For women under the age of 40 whose breasts still contain high levels of collagen-rich membrane tissue, mammograms may prove even less accurate. But there is a solution to early detection that comes in a quick and painless form that utilizes thermographic imaging to detect changes in temperature of a given region and anything that could possibly be traced to cancer in a patient. Utilizing the technology of digital infrared thermal imaging (DITI along with mammograms can insure that nothing goes unnoticed that could potentially be dangerous. As Lynda Witt, of Proactive Health Solutions, will tell you, her system can detect any abnormalities long before they become an issue.
“Thermography offers women the opportunity to address their breast health before they are potentially forced to address a breast illness,” says Witt. “Breast DITI allows women the possibility of monitoring breast health starting around age 28. By this age, a woman’s breast physiology has finished maturing and the cellular changes and components are stable. Understand that breast cancer begins as a cellular signal that demands growth and nutrition. A vascular system develops that can supply this ‘need’ and emits intense heat (hyperthermia) that can be easily detected by the thermal camera as the additional blood flow brings additional heat to that area of the breast and is interpreted by a reading thermologist that is trained in this medical field. These thermal patterns and temperature differentials all tell a ‘story’ of what may be happening in a woman’s breast, many years prior to the formation of a tumor or lump.”
The process is faster than one might expect and is as painless as standing up or sitting in a chair. The thermography machine works much like an X-ray would and takes quick images of the patient from different angles, which are immediately processed on a computer monitor operated by Witt. It is a comfortable and calm setting and Witt’s professional and warm demeanor doesn’t make clients feel the least bit self-conscious in the process. The images are then sent to boardcertified medical doctors to interpret the results and determine if there are any abnormalities to take a closer look into. “The best part of this technology is that it is comfortable, calm and peaceful for most women. The office is cooler than typical, as there are many clinic and client protocols that must be strictly adhered to, and the woman will come to a state of equilibrium as her body cools down,” says Witt. “This process begins once the paperwork and medical history are collected. The camera is placed about three feet away from her and the thermographer operates the computer that engages the camera, collects the skin surface temperatures and digitizes the images for future transmission and interpretation. The imaging of breasts is done with six standard views and takes about five minutes once the subject has cooled adequately. It then takes about four days for the written interpretation to return to the thermographer and be sent on to the client and her medical professional.”
As every adult woman knows, mammograms are not the mos t comfortable or desirable procedure to receive, but while the technology of thermal screenings does not fully replace a mammogram, not only do clients get to skip the discomfort; they also receive results that are not limited by breast density. “The two technologies are different sides of the same coin,” says Witt. “Thermograms are not limited by breast density, as we are not penetrating the body with radiation; we are examining blood flow/skin surface temperatures, so the density of breast tissue is not a factor. The benefit is that women can begin thisnon-invasive screening starting in their late 20s, when breast tissue is dense and collagen-rich, with no health risks in their attempt to prevent breast diseases and/or be proactive about their breast health. Unfortunately, the density of a young woman’s breast tissue limits the use of screening mammography in women of this age group.”
In any disease, especially cancer, prevention is the key to maintaining a healthy body and avoiding any possible risks. Keeping a close eye on one’s body and sensing physical change is how Witt suggests an individual can catch a minor issue before it becomes a large problem. “One could say that prevention is the best direction that women (and men) can head in, and thermography is certainly leading this movement in the area of medical screening,” says Witt. “While thermography does not replace any other screening tool, including mammography, it is the only medical screening that can detect the subtle physiologic changes that accompany breast (and other types of) pathology. The client and physician can then plan accordingly, lay out a careful program to monitor the progression of disease or attempt to reverse the development of disease.”
What makes cancer visible to a heat-sensing camera lies in the blood flow that surrounds affected tissue. “The cancer itself is sometimes not elevated in temperature (inflammatory carcinoma is an exception),” explains Witt. “However, the cancer is demanding blood flow to help nourish it, and so it vascularizes itself with increased blood flow. This is sometimes called angiogenesis, while the actual tumor/tissue density remains hypothermic (cool) on the images.”
If that isn’t astonishing in itself, the thermal imaging process can also pick up on pain that we experience in our bodies. Witt uses this system not only to detect cancer or warning spots on clients, but also to locate injury to the body of any variety. “Pain is reflected as inflammation and can be seen anywhere in the body. Sometimes, even if a client has a headache, we see elevated temperature in the forehead. When asked, the client does indicate that yes, she did have a headache. But inflammation can be seen anywhere in the body and picked up by our thermal cameras. Inflammation is always the beginning of disease. For those who want to take a preventative approach to wellness and health, they could work to remove inflammation from any part of their body.”
Witt, a native Tucsonan, began Proactive Health Solutions in 2005 with her sister Brenda, who operates the same facility in California. Witt pursued further coursework in Educational Leadership after graduating from college and graduate school, but quickly changed her career path and purpose in life after realizing the good she could do for others by conducting thermology. “Once I learned all I could about this technology, I felt a deep responsibility to bring this technology to Tucson. I am a native Tucsonan and love my community. Investing my energy in the health of the people around me seemed like the natural course to take. I enjoyed my teaching career immensely, but felt it was time to take on a new challenge after 18 years in the classroom. I have no regrets and truly enjoy this path.”
Seven years into her practice, and still just as motivated and driven as when she first embarked on her calling, Witt finds satisfaction in helping her community maintain their health to achieve the most they can in life and happiness. “To be honest, my clients are my biggest joy and greatest motivation,” says Witt. “It is an honor to work with people who are centered, balanced and desire to live in the wellness paradigm. Most of my clients refuse to operate in a fear-based model and embrace positive emotions regarding their health, and more importantly, their body’s ability to heal. I see the preventative model becoming the new standard, and my clients are laying the groundwork for this shift from disease management to living optimally, as we are all designed to live.”
To schedule an appointment with Proactive Health Solutions, LLC, Lynda Witt can be contacted at 520-235-7036. Visit ProactiveHealthSolutions.org.