Can breast thermography diagnose cancer? No, nor should thermography be the only diagnostic tool used for cancer screening. But it can pinpoint and detect abnormal cells in the breast which indicate something nefarious is going on in breast tissue, and earlier detection just may save a life. Often times it takes years for masses of cancer cells to manifest or they may in fact be hidden behind layers of healthy breast tissue. But there is no hiding from thermal imaging scans where soft tissue is concerned, making breast thermography a necessary companion to women’s health.
What is Breast Thermography?
Breast thermography is using thermal imaging cameras to scan breast tissue and point out areas of heat and cold to hint at medical issues. Since cancers like any living cells need nutrients to develop, there is an increased blood flow due to blood vessels expanding and new blood vessels forming for this purpose. These blood vessels themselves will have a distinctly different appearance than that of normal blood vessels in the breast tissue. Increased vascular activity will increase the level of heat in the affected and surrounding tissues which can be detected with infrared camera analysis. Heat is also a pretty good indicator of inflammation, which also can be interpreted as a sign of precancerous tissue or active cancer cells, and can also point to other health issues as well, such as torn ligaments and damaged muscle tissue in other types of heath exams.
Unlike mammograms which can can be harmful and a bit uncomfortable for some women to endure, infrared thermography scans are completely non-invasive and painless. Not to mention, breast thermography is absolutely 100% safe, even for women who are pregnant or nursing. Some studies even suggest thermography may find cancer up to 8 years before it would appear in a mammogram. Thermograms can point out issues that could lead to cancer and require treatment, and early detection is vital in surviving breast cancer. According to the International Academy of Clinical Thermography, “…when used as part of a multimodal approach (clinical examination + mammography + thermography) 95% of early stage cancers will be detected…”
Mammograms Aren’t Perfect
Though mammograms are the current medical standard for detecting breast cancer, there are some drawbacks. However, they are still our best weapon in the war against breast cancer. Again, in no way should breast thermography be used to replace mammograms. Mammograms are still the most reliable way for breast cancer screening. However, implementing thermal imaging scans in conjunction with mammograms in women’s health programming will definitely be better off for the patient in the long run.
Below are some of the negative aspects of mammograms accompanied by how breast thermography can augment their use in woman’s screening.
- Mammograms use radiation, which can increase the risk of breast cancer in women under 30, though modern day mammograms have about as much radiation as a chest X-ray. Breast thermography simply measures the heat coming from the body with no harmful side effects at all, which may be preferred by younger patients before opting to have a mammogram.
- Mammograms can be quite painful, having to squeeze the breast to get a proper scan of the tissue. Thermography is 100% painless and totally non-invasive — nothing at all has to touch the body to take measurements so there is no pain or discomfort.
- False negatives. Normal breast tissue can mask cancerous tissue and provide false negatives in mammograms. With breast thermography, the areas of heat are not hidden, nor are blood vessels that may be abnormal. False negative results can make a patient disregard further symptoms and not seek additional treatment.
- False positives can occur in younger women, women who have a family history of breast cancer and women who are taking hormone supplements. This may lead to biopsies and other treatments that have their own risks, not to mention unnecessary anxiety in the patient. A false positive coupled with a thermogram study can put a patient’s mind at a degree of ease when deciding what treatment options to pursue.
Clinical Trials of Breast Thermography
Read the below recent scientific journals from 2014 to learn more about breast thermography and its benefits.A comparison of mammography, ultrasonography, and far-infrared thermography with pathological results in screening and early diagnosis of breast cancer
– Xiaoli Yaoa, Wen Weia, Juanjuan Lia, Lijun Wang, ZhiLiang Xua, Yingwen Wana, Kaiyang Li, Shengrong Suna (Department of Breast and Thyroid Surgery, Wuhan University ,Renmin Hospital, Wuhan 430060, Hubei Province, China, School of Physics, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430060, Hubei Province, China), as published in Asian Biomedicine Vol. 8 No. 1 February 2014; 11-19
“In conclusion, our study results indicate that far-infrared thermography is suitable as a screening tool for breast cancer, and its sensitivity and specificity are better than those of ultrasonography and mammography for lesions <2 cm in diameter. The procedure is completely non-invasive, fast, and economical, making it suitable for screening in large populations. Further study and standardization of this image analysis is warranted.”IR Imaging: A New Approach for Breast Cancer Detection
– Kantilal.P.Rane, Rupesh R Joshi, L. A. Chaudhari at Godavari College of Engineering, Electronics & Telecommunication Department, Jalgaon (Maharashtra), INDIA, Silicon Valley, U.S.A.as published in INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ADVANCED ELECTRONICS & COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS Approved by CSIR-NISCAIR ISSN NO: 2277-7318, PROCEEDINGS OF INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON MODELING AND SIMULATION IN ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY (ICMSET-2014) 15th – 16th FEBRUARY, 2014
“…From studies at CTA laboratories, it is clear that thermography provides significant data for interpreting risk of developing breast malignancy…”
Useful Links for Breast Thermography & Breast Cancer Information
- October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
- FDA Articles on Breast Thermography
- Nation Cancer Institute – Risks of Mammograms
- Susan G Komen – Early Detection
For information on thermal imaging cameras from SPI Corp for breast thermography, please call Jim Santana at (702) 368-3966 in the Las Vegas area, or toll free at (800) 403-2983. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.