Saturday, 22 March 2008


Hi all readers, here is something which I received over email that I would like to share with you...

Published Saturday, March 1, 2008, Singapore

Dread feeling the squeeze?Breast thermography has come to town - a much easier way than mammography to detect breast cancer, writes MELISSA HENG

WOULDN'T it be wonderful if there were a test that could offer women early detection of breast cancer without the dread and discomfort associated with mammograms? Dr Wong:

Early detection is crucial.
If you know way in advance - 8-10 years earlier, with thermography - that there's a cancerous growth, treatment can be very targeted and quick surgical intervention may save you a breast Well, now there is.
Breast thermography has made its way to our shores recently and it promises women 'no squeeze' breast screenings. In fact, there is no contact with a woman's breasts at all.
But here's the really great thing about this form of screening: it can detect cancerous growth 8-10 years in advance, which is way ahead of what mammography can do. 'Thermography is a non-invasive and non-contact imaging technique that uses infra-red to detect heat,' explains Clinique Suisse's Dr YM Wong, whose clinic at Paragon Medical Centre was the first to bring the technology to Singapore last year.
'Most cancers take 8-10 years to grow to one centimetre in size, but the cancer's growth accelerates greatly after this. So by the time you feel a lump in the breast, it may be already past the first stage, and that affects your chances of survival,' says Dr Wong, who has more than 20 years of gynaecological experience.

A session lasts all of five minutes ... The machine will take a series of infra-red shots, which will be sent to a computer and the result of the readings will be out within minutes.

Breast cancer makes up almost 30 per cent of all female cancers here. Each year, about 1,000 women are diagnosed with the condition. The disease occurs almost entirely in women, although a small number of men do get it too.
As in any other form of cancer, breast cancer is primarily a malignant tumour. Specifically, the breast cancer tumour develops from the cells near or around the breast. These cancer cells, if not arrested and destroyed, may spread to other parts of the body.
With thermography, detection can be made at the cell stage, before the cancer becomes a tumour or spreads to other parts of the body. 'Any object in the body that is above the absolute temperature of zero will emit heat and all such hot spots will be picked up by infra-red,' explains Dr Wong.
Developed from army technology and used initially to trace troop movements, digital infra-red thermography has been around for more than a decade. It was approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for use medically in the US in the 1980s. 'Breast thermography is superior to the mammogram in so many ways, even though the latter is the current gold standard in breast screening.
This, I am sure, will soon change,' predicts Dr Wong, who stresses that thermography has no side effects whatsoever and is completely safe, even for young women. 'You can do a session a day and still be none the worse for it because there's no radiation at all,' assures Dr Wong. So far, he has performed more than 200 screenings here using thermography.
'Thermography has a sensitivity level or accuracy rate of between 84 and 98 per cent, which compares favourably with the mammogram's 86 per cent,' claims Dr Wong, who charges $150 for the first thermography session and $100 thereafter for any repeat sessions. A mammogram done at a private clinic could cost anywhere between $120 and $200.
According to Dr Wong, breast thermography is suitable for women of any age and is a particularly attractive option for women who have had breast augmentation work done before. 'A woman who has had silicone implants done earlier in her youth, for example, may experience a leak under the pressure of the mammogram squeeze because such implants do deteriorate with time.
With thermography, there is no such problem at all,' says Dr Wong. A thermography session lasts all of five minutes. All that is required is for the patient to sit about two metres away from a special camera-like piece of equipment, remove her blouse and bra and rotate her body as directed.
The machine will take a series of infra-red shots, which will be sent to a computer and the result of the readings will be out within minutes. 'The readings will show up as patches of colour. The cooler parts of the body will show up blue, whereas the hotter parts will show up red. Yellows and greens are variations, showing the degree of heat. So if I see a patch of red on an otherwise blue-coloured breast, that's an indication something is not right,' explains Dr Wong.
He cautions, however, that screening and diagnosis are two entirely different things and women should not take their screening results as gospel truth. 'There is only one way to diagnose breast cancer and that is through a biopsy. That's the only sure way to confirm a screening test, be it thermography, mammography or ultra-sound,' he says. As for treatment, there are various options, depending on the stage of the disease.
In Singapore , about 80 per cent of patients seek treatment in the early stages of breast cancer, and survival rates are high in the majority of these cases. 'Treatment choice will depend on how far the disease has spread.
That is why early detection is crucial. If you know way in advance that there's a cancerous growth, treatment can be very targeted and quick surgical intervention may save you a breast,' says Dr Wong.
Breast-conserving surgery, commonly known as lumpectomy, in which only the tumour is removed rather than the whole breast, is often preferred, although this may not always be possible, depending on how far the cancer has progressed.
Women with a more advanced stage of breast cancer may require chemotherapy in addition to surgery. But medical intervention aside, early detection will allow a woman to take her own set of precautionary measures.
'We all know that some women are more at risk than others. Now, if your thermogram shows up a suspicious growth, in addition to a biopsy and whatever treatments that follow, the woman herself can start to turn her lifestyle around. With 8-10 years of advance warning, she has time to adopt a healthier lifestyle, cut down on alcohol, quit smoking, etc,' says Dr Wong. But there is nothing like stealing a march on cancer, and breast thermography could do just that.

Those interested may contact Clinique Suisse at 6235-4040 .The clinic is located at 290 Orchard Road, #08-01, Paragon Medical Centre

1 comment:

kelly said...

Thank you for your post Dr. Wong! I will be listing you in my blog post soon as part of my mission to spread awareness of thermography. Let's make Nov 2010 Cancer SMARTNESS Month!