Breast Thermogram Hormonal Grade for Estrogen Activity

Hormonal Grade for Estrogen Activity

Visualizing the effects of estrogen on the breast blood supply – Lifetime exposure to estrogen has been identified as a significant risk factor for the development of cancer. While thermal imaging cannot directly measure estrogen, the Hormonal Grade is a way to look at the effects of estrogen on the circulation of the breasts. When we measure the level of estrogen and progesterone in the blood, urine or saliva we are looking at the hormonal balance in the whole body. The question remains, what is the effect of these hormone levels on the breasts. Normal fatty tissue in the breasts can actually produce estrogen and will be missed on blood testing and can contribute to risk. Some women have estrogen receptors that are more sensitive or bind estrogen more easily. They may even have low estrogen levels, but their breasts are actually being over stimulated by the estrogen they have. By looking at the hormonal grade, we can help put all of these factors into perspective.

It is important to recognize some additional factors that can affect the hormonal grade that may or may not be the result of estrogen stimulation. Symmetrical low-grade whole breast inflammation from poor lymph flow can produce mottled thermal patterns that can simulate the appearance of estrogen stimulation in the breasts. Altered thyroid function can create mottling and can directly alter the estrogen progesterone balance. In addition, chronic pain, stress, hormonal imbalance, allergy, illness, (low-grade) infection, exposure to foods/chemicals for which one is sensitive can also affect nervous and/or immune/lymphatic system function creating mottling. When the hormonal grade is at a 3 or 4, all of these factors should be considered.

How are the images analyzed?

This analysis is performed by comparing only the symmetrical patterns that occur in both breasts to those we would expect on women who are pregnant or lactating. The closer the symmetrical patterns appear to the pregnant/lactating woman, the higher the implied estrogen activity in the breasts.

Grade 0There are no symmetrical blood vessel patterns visualized in the breasts which means the breasts do not appear to be stimulated by estrogen at all. Your breasts appear to be handling the estrogen in your body very well and there is really nothing to be done to restore hormonal balance in the breasts. If you are taking hormone replacement, this rating is great news since it suggests that the estrogen is probably not contributing to any risk you may have for developing cancer. This rating is most common in post menopausal women and is considered to be the healthiest.

Grade 1 Symmetrical blood vessel patterns are visualized in the chest wall and upper most breast surface only. This suggests a small amount estrogen activity but like Grade 0, suggests that the estrogen in your body is less like to contribute to any risk you may have for developing cancer. This rating is also common in post menopausal women and is considered to be healthy.

Follow-up Recommendations for Hormonal Grade of 0 or 1:

No follow up or management is necessary.

Grade 2 Symmetrical blood vessel patterns now visualized extending to the upper-inner and/or upper outer quadrants of the breasts. This suggests a slightly higher activity than Grade 1 suggests and the estrogen in your body is less likely contributing to any risk you might have for developing cancer or that the contribution is small. This grade is commonly seen in premenopausal women and is considered to be healthy.

How should you follow up for a Hormonal Grade 2:

This grade does not necessarily require any follow up or management and may be normal especially for pre-menopausal women. For post menopausal women who are not on hormones, they may wish to work with a holistic practitioner to try to lower the estrogen stimulation to the breasts especially if their TH rating is suggesting any elevation in risk.

Grade 3 The blood vessel patterns are visualized extending to the level of the nipple line as they do during pregnancy under the effects of estrogen. This suggests moderate estrogen activity and may suggest that estrogen stimulation of the breasts may be contributing to risk for developing cancer in women with TH3 ratings or higher.

Women who are pregnant and lactating will generally have a Hormonal Grade of 3 or 4 due to natural hormonal changes. Also, women on birth control pills and hormone replacement will also commonly exhibit this Hormonal Grade as a function of the hormones they are taking. This grade simply says the level of stimulation is elevated. The TH rating will let you know the level of risk for developing cancer. Other possible causes for this rating included large breast size, poor estrogen-progesterone balance and poor estrogen metabolism.

Grade 4 The symmetrical blood vessel patterns now are visualized extending below the nipple line. The significance is the same as Grade 3. The level of stimulation is just greater.

Follow-up Recommendations for Hormonal Grade 3 or 4:

If you are pregnant or lactating there is nothing to do. This is completely normal for you and should not generate any concern. If you are taking hormones or birth control pills, this is likely the cause and reducing the activity may not be possible as long as you continue on these medications.

Use the TH rating to determine if there is an elevated level of risk for the breasts. If there is a TH rating of 3 or higher, addressing the estrogen may be a way to lower your risk. If discontinuing treatment is not an option or not desired, watch the TH ratings to see if any increase in risk can be detected and use that with your health care provider to determine if changes to your hormone intake are warranted.

If there are no obvious sources of estrogen that could explain the grade it is time to look at environmental and dietary estrogen, estrogen-progesterone balance and estrogen metabolism along with the additional factors mentioned above. Tips on how to do this may be available from the center where you were imaged or a consultation with a holistic health care provider can be considered.

Understanding Your Thermal Breast Imaging Scan