Learn about the benefits of Thermography and the amazing record it has for detecting breast cancer (and many other forms of cancer), sometimes before it even becomes cancer! Join the conversation as we sit down with April Abbonizio to talk about why more and more women are turning to Thermography in place of traditional Mammography. You won’t want to miss it!
Dr Seth Gerlach: 00:00 Hey guys!Dr Seth Gerlach here. In this video we talk about mammograms versus thermography, really in regards to diagnosing. We want to make sure,especially with things like cancer, that we’re able to be on the cutting edge without causing harm. So we talk about mammograms’ safety and sensitivity. We talk about things like false positives. Then we talk about thermography, how it’s different, how it works and what we’re actually picking up with thermography.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 00:27 So I really hope you enjoy this video. If you have any comments, please leave them below and please consider subscribing if you enjoy the video so you can be one of the first to enjoy our content as it comes out.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 00:40 Hope you enjoy it. Have a great day.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 00:49 Hello everybody. Dr Seth Gerlach. I’m here with my really good friend today April Abbonizio. I’ll introduce her in just a second. This broadcast is for anyone who knows someone with cancer, maybe you have cancer or you’re just interested in knowing how to detect and prevent cancer before it becomes a probably. So we’re going to talk to day about mammography and thermography, the different pros and cons for each and kind of talk through some of the science and some of April’s experience because she’s kind of an expert in this field.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 01:22 April is the owner at Midwest Thermography solutions in St Louis. She practices thermography. April, I guess just give us a brief intro, how you got into this, like what’s your favorite part of doing this, and then we can get into the nitty gritty.
April Abbonizio: 01:38 Okay. Well I learned about thermography when I was at the age where I needed a mammogram where they were telling me that they wanted me to get a mammogram. So I was looking for alternatives and I came across thermography, did a lot of research on it. I wanted to make sure it was credible, it was effective, and I kind of fell in love with it, not only for the breast screening but full body screening. So I ended up incorporating it into my health coaching practice and now it’s all I do.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 02:13 That’s awesome. We’ll get into more about thermography later just because I love the modality of it. I think it’s really cool. I think it does a lot more than just cancer detection [inaudible 00:02:27]. I think it’s what’s it’s most known for, right?
April Abbonizio: 02:29 Right.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 02:30 Cool. So we’ll get into all that today. I first want to talk about mammograms. Most women they’re getting a mammogram every year, every other year if they’re in their 40s, 50s usually. The whole idea is we want to find cancers before they become too big and a problem and then deal with them somehow to try to mitigate the risks and their dangers.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 02:57 So when I look at any kind of treatment or modality or testing technique, I want to make sure it’s 1) it’s effective, it’s doing what it’s supposed to do, 2) it’s safe. So let’s talk about maybe some of that.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 03:11 From what you see, and I’ve got some facts and figures and stuff here too, but the biggest thing I see as far as it being effective, can we actually find what we’re looking for, which is changes in tissue and even cancerous and precancerous cells before they start multiplying because cancer cells divide very quickly, right?
April Abbonizio: 03:32 Yeah, they do every 90 days. They double every 90 days. If they double … they grow faster in younger women and as we age they grow slower.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 03:45 Gotcha. So I guess that’s why it’s so critical to catch it early before you’ve had years and years and some people decades of this going on. So we talk about effective. How many cancers are we able to find and are all those all really true? So there’s this big study I found. This was 60,000 women and they looked at the areas of concern. So mammograms testing the areas of concern. What they found were in 70% of the areas that mammography was flagging, 70% of those were false positives. So we’re getting overdiagnosis of women and the women are going through treatments that maybe they don’t need, all for the potential to track down these cancer cells. But let’s back up for a minute and maybe see, can you explain [inaudible 00:04:41] to everyone what mammography does and what exactly they’re looking for?
April Abbonizio: 04:46 So, mammography is more of an anatomical test. It’s looking for anatomy, the actual lump and tumor, which takes a long time to form, to be big enough to be seen in a mammogram. So they’re actually looking for something that’s already there as opposed to thermography who’s watching for early changes and you can actually watch it forming.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 05:14 Wow. And what I’ve seen, correct me if I’m wrong, but we talked about how these cancer cells divide and spread, but from what I’ve seen for it to be visible or detectable by mammogram, a lot of these tumors have been already growing for 5, 8, maybe even 10 years, is that what you see?
April Abbonizio: 05:35 Yeah. They’re just now big enough to be seen. It takes a long time, when a cell is so microscopic that it’ll double, so in 90 days they’ll be two cells and then in 180 days we’ll be four cells. So it just takes a long time for it to build up and when you’re looking structurally, it has to be big enough to be seen. A lot of these false positives that you’re talking about is dense tissue and fibrocystic tissue that looks so much, I mean, it looks just like cancer. It’s just a whiteness in the X-ray.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 06:14 Yeah. And I saw there is a Canadian study and they were talking about that how the density of tissue really, really matters. So the sensitivity ranged from like 98% down to 48% depending on how dense the breast tissue was. So when you’re down at 40%, you’re flipping a coin.
April Abbonizio: 06:37 Yeah.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 06:37 Essentially.
April Abbonizio: 06:37 That’s true. And I think the average in a lot of those studies comes out to be about 80% sensitivity for mammography.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 06:45 Gotcha.
April Abbonizio: 06:46 Thermography is up to 90% sensitive. It catches 90% of cancers.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 06:54 Wow.
April Abbonizio: 06:55 Yeah, it’s crazy all the false positives. There was a study in Denmark that was done and 48% overdiagnosis in women. [inaudible 00:07:08].
Dr Seth Gerlach: 07:07 Wow. I mean it’s a multibillion dollar industry and you’d hate to think that we’d be doing this on purpose, but you have to take a step back and think like every once in a while, is what we’re doing like really the correct thing kind of going forward here? And I’ve got something here also from a Cochrane database system, a systematic review, 2009. They’re again, talking about the overdiagnosis of all these screens. They essentially summed it up. They said for every 2000 women who were screened every year for 10 years, one woman would have her life prolonged and 10 healthy women who had not been diagnosed, they were treated unnecessarily. So that window there for helping out people seems very small, but it seems to have more of a downside as far as overdiagnosis.
April Abbonizio: 07:56 Yeah. Absolutely. The [inaudible 00:08:00] Journal of Medicine shad a study that claimed over a 30-year period 1.3 million women had been overdiagnosed and over-treated.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 08:10 Wow.
April Abbonizio: 08:10 Unnecessary lumpectomies, unnecessary chemotherapy, unnecessary radiation.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 08:17 That’s crazy. So then we start to get into, I think kind of the safety aspect of all this too. So we talk about, and we’ll get into thermography too, but we talked about effectiveness, so it may not be as specific and we may have some overdiagnosis, but then is it safe? Are the things we’re doing safe? Mammography in essence it’s radiation, right? Were radiating the tissues looking inside to look for changes?
April Abbonizio: 08:47 Yeah, it’s ionized radiation. So it accumulates in our body and people don’t realize that it’s cumulative. We can’t detox radiation out of our body.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 08:59 So the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the IRC, they classify different things in foods and toxins, whatever, to be carcinogenic, possibly carcinogenic, probable carcinogen and ionizing radiation is a Class One carcinogenic, which means it’s carcinogenic to humans. So you have to kind of shake your head and wonder, we’re trying to detect cancers so cancers aren’t being more widespread and killing more people, but in return we’re radiating people every year which causes cancer?
April Abbonizio: 09:36 Yeah. It increases your risk for cancer for sure. I read a statistic one time that said that there is 1000 times more radiation in a mammogram, then there is in a chest X-ray.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 09:53 That’s insane.
April Abbonizio: 09:53 It’s a lot. Then they pull out these 3D mammograms which are supposed to be so great, but they’re even 30% more radiation.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 10:00 Wow.
April Abbonizio: 10:01 Kind of scary.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 10:02 Well, the thing of it too is, women are going every year or every couple of years, but then in the case of, “Hey, we find something” we’re going to need more frequently sometimes?
April Abbonizio: 10:10 Yeah.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 10:11 So again, like you said, it’s really hard to get out of our body once we’ve introduced it. It’s not like, “Oh, it just goes away. I can’t see. It doesn’t hurt me.” So these are the things we need to kind of think about as we go through this.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 10:22 Another thing of the, not just the radiation, which is a very big aspect, but how the breast tissues are compressed during the actual study.
April Abbonizio: 10:34 Right. It’s almost 50 pounds [inaudible 00:10:36] of pressure, which I think common sense tells me that putting 50 pounds of pressure in any part of your body is not good. You’re harming your cells whether they’re healthy or whether they’re sick and if you have an encapsulated tumor in there, you’re chancing a rupture of that. If it ruptures it’s not contained anymore, which means that it spreads throughout your body so it’s not contained in that one area.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 11:06 Yeah, that’s very … and I think I saw that maybe up to even 20 pounds of pressure was enough to rupture some of these encapsulated tumors. If we’re going to two and a half times that, then holy Moly we are … It’s a recipe for disaster for doing this to every single female between 40 and 55 every year.
April Abbonizio: 11:28 Right. Especially if clearly if you have dense breasts, which makes it more difficult.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 11:33 Oh my gosh. So really from what the science shows, I mean the effectiveness, the sensitivity is not as great as we would like it. And there’s even overdiagnosis and the safety of it is we’re introducing some of these things to the body that can not only be detrimental but have been shown to potentially cause cancer, the stuff we’re trying to detect in the first place.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 11:57 Really, I think it comes down to not just detection but prevention. I mean we want to of course, prevent cancers, that’s a talk for another day, but today we were already talking about detection. So let’s get into then thermography more. Mammography looks at structure. So let’s go through what thermography kind of looks at and how it’s different.
April Abbonizio: 12:20 Yeah. So while mammography looks at the structure, the anatomy, thermography is more physiological and functional, so it’s looking at the blood flow or your thermal patterns that should remain pretty constant our whole life unless something is going on. So we’re thermally symmetrical pretty much from right to left. So based on different patterns, asymmetries, it tells the doctors if there’s something going on. They’re looking for changes over time. Because we should remain constant, if they see changes, they know something’s going on.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 13:01 Gotcha. So from what I’ve seen from thermography too, these cells and these thermal patterns change usually way before we start to see growths, tumors, changes that we can see anatomically, right?
April Abbonizio: 13:17 Yes. So it starts with one cell that doubles every 90 days. We talked about that. So at a certain point when it’s about 256-ish cells, about two years into the process, you can start to see changes thermally. And what happens is that blood … If you have cancer cells in there and they’re doubling, it needs a blood supply, it needs a food supply, a nutrient supply. So the blood vessels form, they open, they form more vessels and you have more of a blood supply there. And that’s what changes the thermal patterns in the breast.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 13:57 Wow. So are you seeing, I guess, more women start to reach out for thermography in place of or in addition to mammography?
April Abbonizio: 14:07 For sure. I’ve been doing it for about five years and I definitely … We try to educate … All of the thermographers out there to try to educate and let people know the option but I definitely am seeing more knowledge about it and more people wanting a safer option.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 14:29 Yeah, that’s great. I think it’s what it is. It’s a safer option that can even detect changes in the body before they become problems. And we talk about, I know it’s not just breast cancers and things like this, but it’s whole body. So I know you’re doing full-body scans and all kinds of stuff. So have you seen any crazy stories, anything come in like, “Oh my gosh, we found this on thermography.”?
April Abbonizio: 14:56 Well, I don’t know if I’d say crazy, but I’ve had a handful of breast cancers that … You can’t diagnose breast cancer without a biopsy. You have to biopsy. It’s the only true way to know if it’s a cancer. I have one patient that comes to mind. She was told that she had a 90% chance that she had DCIS cancer, which is basically not cancer. It’s stage zero cancer, but the diagnoses for that it’s like gone up 300% in the past, like 10 years. It’s kind of crazy.
April Abbonizio: 15:37 So she chose not to have a biopsy, but we scan her every six months and nothing is changing. So she may have DCIS, we don’t know for sure, but if she does, it’s encapsulated and it’s not growing. There’s no blood supply that is active in there. So she’s choosing not to do anything about it, which I think is a pretty smart move.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 16:06 [inaudible 00:16:06].
April Abbonizio: 16:06 I’ve seen women that have active cancer that come in every three months. We are watching the tumor to see if their treatment is helping or if it’s not helping. Luckily we’ve seen good progress in the ones that I have.
April Abbonizio: 16:26 I had a woman who had been stable with breast cancer, nothing was happening for a long time then the last time she came in, there was activity. So, you can catch it so many years earlier, the cells that are starting to multiply, that you can actually, if you catch it early enough, with diet and lifestyle reverse the direction that it’s going into. So if you’re very consistent with your thermogram after you’ve had a stable baseline, than you’re catching things really early and your prognosis is better, you could reverse it potentially and your treatment, it’s much less invasive.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 17:14 Yeah. That’s the key thing. So detecting and then making changes to mitigate or reverse or whatever we need to do. And I know … Hi Stacey- By the way Stacy says hi- in other instances when people get like a half or full-body thermography and we see changes in thyroid vascularization or the gut or liver and you can actually pick up and see different parts of the body that could be potentially pathologies or things in the body that are in that. How often do you see things like that?
April Abbonizio: 17:53 All the time. All the time. I mean sometimes they know about the issue and sometimes they don’t. I had a patient come in who is very healthy. She does thermography preventively trying to make sure everything is in balance. Her thyroid came back as … the patterns were a little hyperthermic and so she went and had blood work done and the blood work was normal. So she went and had an ultrasound done, which is beyond what most people would do at that point, but she was very curious and sure enough she had a nodule on her thyroid.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 18:31 Wow.
April Abbonizio: 18:31 So they’re going to watch it and she would never have known that had she not done thermography. But lots of things can show up in a thermogram; dysfunction in your colon, in your kidney, digestive issues, major hormone imbalances, vascular issues, heart and lung. I mean so many things. And it’s nonspecific. Most of the time it’ll tell you where there’s trouble areas. But since the commonality of all these degenerative diseases is inflammation, that’s what it’s showing is inflammation. And so there’s an increased blood supply, so it changes those thermal patterns.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 19:11 That’s awesome. So it’s really functionality we’re looking at instead of anatomy?
April Abbonizio: 19:16 Right. Correct.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 19:18 How the body’s organs are functioning and cells really. And seeing changes. That’s awesome.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 19:25 So what does a typical process look like if someone wants to get thermography? What happens during the whole thermography process? I know it’s a little different than a mammogram.
April Abbonizio: 19:39 Yeah. So the first thing we do is go over her health history. The doctors who interpret these images, take your history, your concerns, your symptoms all into account, your for family history, even when they’re looking at the images. And for breast imaging, all of that contributes to your risk level. They assess your risk for breast cancer, which is nice. You’re within normal limits, low risk, moderate risk, high risk, or you have a confirmed malignancy.
April Abbonizio: 20:12 So they come in and we do the health history and then we take a series of images depending on if you have one region or if we do, which is typically the breast, which is five images, we’ll do a front view, two lateral views or two side views and then two oblique views. if we do upper body it’s 16 images from head to pelvis, and if we do full body, it’s 28 images of the entire body.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 20:43 [inaudible 00:20:43] use a specific kind of camera, right?
April Abbonizio: 20:47 Yeah, it’s an infrared camera. What it does is, it’s a specialized camera that picks up the infrared radiation that is coming off of our skin and turns it into a very colorful picture. The colors represent temperatures and it’s very specific. I mean they read down to the pixel and there’s like 19,000 pixels per picture and each pixel is read to the hundredth of a degree. So it’s very, very specific when they read. They’re looking for different patterns. People see heat or read on their image and freak out and you’d have to tell them that there’s going to be that range of color in every single picture. The doctors look for patterns. They look for temperature differentials. It’s not just a red spot.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 21:36 Gotcha. So then the reports are sent off. The doctors read them, right?
April Abbonizio: 21:40 Mm-hmm (affirmative). There are MDs, board certified in thermology and they read them, write up a report and then that report will come back to me and I will send it out to the patient and then send it out to their doctors if they want me to.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 21:56 Gotcha. And so all of this is completely non-radiation, right?
April Abbonizio: 22:01 No radiation. It’s no compression. It’s noninvasive. It’s 100% safe. It’s safe as taking a picture with your iPhone. I mean it’s very, very safe.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 22:12 Yeah. And that’s what I love about it. So we go back to safety and is it effective? I think it’s both of those and there’s not a lot of therapies you can say that about when you look at risk versus benefits.
April Abbonizio: 22:26 Yeah. You know there’s, there are cancers that you can’t see on a mammogram. There are cancers that are thermographically silent. I mean you’re gonna… that’s why even if you just do thermography and you don’t want to do mammography, which is what I do. I just do thermography, but I also, every once in a while will choose to get an ultrasound to get that anatomical test a safe way. So you have that backup because like inflammatory breast cancer can’t be seen on a mammogram, but it’s very well seen on a thermogram. But there are cancers that are thermographically silent, about 10% and they’re rare but they’re there. So you don’t want to solely use one or the other. They work well together. I use mostly thermography and then every once in a while will have an ultrasound.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 23:21 I think that’s an amazing point because there’s no one size fits all like you said, but I think it’s great that people have options and they know. I think knowledge is the biggest thing because most people, they don’t know that these other modalities are out there. They don’t know that they don’t have to get a mammogram every year. They have these other options at hand.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 23:44 Same thing with dietary stuff. Same thing with natural physicians. I feel like lot of people don’t know, “Oh my gosh, there’s other doctors that look at things differently than my doctors do.” So it’s a great time to be alive right now and the natural health field, I feel like because there’s so many things up and coming. it’s a really, really great time.
April Abbonizio: 24:05 Yeah. I agree.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 24:07 Anything else you want to add before we kind of wrap up here on thermography, mammography, cancer? Anything at all?
April Abbonizio: 24:14 I guess the only other point that I would have is what I like about thermography versus mammography is the fact that you’re not just looking at the breast, what can be imaged in the X-ray, but it actually gets half your neck, your armpit area, which upper outer quadrant is where most cancers are found and actually up there towards your armpit. So a lot of times it’s not even captured in the image of a mammogram, so it’s just kind of nice. You see everything that feeds into the breast and that feeds out of the breast. So I guess I like the coverage of thermography as well.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 24:59 Great point. I love it. So we’re thinking holistically now. That’s awesome. So where can people find more info on you and thermography?
April Abbonizio: 25:07 So my website is long. It’s midwestthermographysolutions.com. There’s a lot of information on there and I’m also on Facebook but there’s a contact me section and if they want more information, if they want to call me, all that information’s on the website.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 25:27 That’s awesome. And I’ll link some of those below so it’s easily clickable for people also. And I do urge you guys, if you’re interested just reach out, ask some questions, do some research and just see if it’s right for you.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 25:38 April’s a really good friend of mine. I spend a lot of people her way and we’ve worked together on a lot of cases and I really feel like this is cutting edge stuff and it really does help people moving forward. So check it out, read up, ask questions and kind of go from there.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 25:56 April, thank you so much for coming on today. That was some really great stuff you shared and I love what you’re dealing with the thermography, so keep it up.
April Abbonizio: 26:04 Thank you. Thank you.
Dr Seth Gerlach: 26:06 Hope everyone has a great rest of your day. Take care.