SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The current stats show that one in every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer sometime in her life. That's a scary statistic for women.
There's been some debate recently on when women should start having a mammogram to check for breast cancer. Some say 40, others say 50, and those with a history of the disease in their families are going in to get examinations in their 30s.
Because of the radiation, most doctors would advise patients to get as few X-rays as possible, including mammograms. Now some people think they may have found the solution to the potentially conflicting advice. It's called thermography, and it detects more than breast cancer.
Thermography basically takes a picture of the body, mapping its inner temperatures. Because the test only detects heats and does not involve X-rays or radiation, proponents advocate getting it done as often as you feel necessary to monitor changes in your body's functions.
"It's totally non-invasive," explained certified clinical thermographer Tina Clemmons, president and founder of De Novo Scan Clinical Thermography in Scottsdale.
What happens is a person is put into a cool room and then the special camera takes a picture of a specific part of the body. It can be the breast area or any other body part -- legs, arms, stomach, lungs. Good areas show up as blue or cool. Potential problem spots show up in red. That heat means blood is staying in that area, possibly due to a blockage or perhaps to supply a growth of some kind.
"What you're looking for on a thermogram is symmetry," Clemmons explained. "You want both sides to be the same."
The images produced are unique to each patient.
"In healthy people there is a symmetrical thermal pattern that is consistent and reproducible for that individual," the De No Scan Scan website explains. "Injury or disease will result in thermal asymmetries"
The FDA warns that thermography, which was approved for use as "an adjunctive screening tool" in 1982, should not be used as a substitute for a mammogram.
But many people who support thermography believe it can detect problem areas up to 10 years before they're big enough to show up on a regular X-ray or mammogram.
Thermography isn't just for breast checks.
"Medical DITI (digital infrared therma imaging) is the only method available to visualize and assess pain and pathology anywhere in the body," according to the De Novo Scan website.
A thermographic breast check, which includes lymph nodes and veins in the neck, runs $250. Mapping a specific region of the body takes about 15 minutes. A full-body scan takes about 30 minutes.
De Novo Scan is located at 8320 N. Hayden Road, #106, Arizona.