What is Breast Thermography?
The benefit of breast thermography is that it offers the opportunity of earlier detection of breast disease than has been possible through other modalities. Thermography can detect the subtle physiologic changes that accompany breast pathology, whether it is cancer, fibrocystic disease, an infection or a vascular disease. Your doctor can then plan accordingly and lay out a careful program to further diagnose and /or MONITOR you during and after any treatment.
Good thermal symmetry with no suspicious vascular patterns or significant thermal findings.
The very significant vascular activity in the left breast justified clinical correlation and close monitoring which returned an opinion of fibrocystic changes taking place. These changes can be monitored thermographically at regular intervals until a stable baseline is established and is reliable enough for annual comparison.
Early Stage Malignant tumor
This is the specific area of a small DCIS. We can see the vascular feed and the discreet area of hypothermia that is displacing the surrounding hyperthermia.
Thermography is a painless, non invasive, state of the art clinical test without any exposure to radiation and is used as part of an early detection program which gives women of all ages the opportunity to increase their chances of detecting breast disease at an early stage. It is particularly useful for women under 50 where mammography is less effective.
Thermography's role in breast cancer and other breast disorders is to help in early detection and monitoring of abnormal physiology and the establishment of risk factors for the development or existence of cancer. When used with other procedures the best possible evaluation of breast health is made.
This test is designed to improve chances for detecting fast-growing, active tumors in the intervals between mammographic screenings or when mammography is not indicated by screening guidelines for women under 50 years of age.
All patients thermograms (breast images) are kept on record and form a baseline for all future routine evaluations.
This patient's thermograms have remained stable for two years. These patterns are like a thermal fingerprint which will only change if pathology develops.
Baseline 3 Month Follow-up
First Annual Second Annual
With the new ultra-sensitive, high resolution digital infrared cameras available today a technology that has been developing over the past 20 years is now becoming more accessible.
Thermography as a physiologic test, demonstrates heat patterns that are strongly indicative of breast abnormality, the test can detect subtle changes in breast temperature that indicate a variety of breast diseases and abnormalities and once abnormal heat patterns are detected in the breast, follow-up procedures including mammography are necessary to rule out or properly diagnose cancer and a host of other breast diseases such as fibrocystic syndrome, Pagets disease, etc.
Canadian researchers recently found that infrared imaging of breast cancers could detect minute temperature variations related to blood flow and demonstrate abnormal patterns associated with the progression of tumors. These images or thermograms of the breast were positive for 83% of breast cancers compared to 61% for clinical breast examination alone and 84% for mammography.
By performing thermography years before conventional mammography, a selected patient population at risk can be monitored more carefully, and then by accurately utilize mammography or ultrasound as soon as is possible to detect the actual lesion - (once it has grown large enough and dense enough to be seen on mammographic film), can increase the patients treatment options and ultimately improve the outcome.
It is in this role that thermography provides its most practical benefit to the general public and to the medical profession. It is certainly an adjunct to the appropriate usage of mammography and not a competitor. In fact, thermography has the ability to identify patients at the highest risk and actually increase the effective usage of mammographic imaging procedures.
Until such time as a cure has been found for this terrible disease, progress must be made in the fields of early detection and risk evaluation coupled with sound clinical decision making.
Thermography, with its non-radiation, non-contact and low-cost basis has been clearly demonstrated to be a valuable and safe early risk marker of breast pathology, and an excellent case management tool for the ongoing monitoring and treatment of breast disease when used under carefully controlled clinical protocols.
Thermography—also known as DITI—is a radiation free, noninvasive, painless, and fast and safe adjunctive diagnostic procedure. A Meditherm® medical digital infrared thermal camera is used to record thermal patterns and temperature variations on the body surface, producing real-time digital images (thermogram) which reveal sites of physiologic dysfunction and/or abnormal tissue growth, as well as nerve and vascular changes that are invisible to X-Ray and MRI. Any positive thermographic findings require follow-up procedures including mammography to rule out or properly diagnose cancer and a host of other breast diseases.
No medical screening test is without false positives and negatives, including mammography (2D & 3D), MRI, CT scans, ultrasound and thermography. None of the tests above are stand-alone diagnostic tests for cancer. A biopsy is required to prove or disprove cancer. And yet a biopsy cannot determine whether a cancer is advancing, regressing or stable.
The best possible plan is to use every appropriate test adjunctively to get the highest detection rates without generating additional or unnecessary invasive testing.
All women can benefit from DITI breast screening. It is especially helpful in women between the ages of 30 and 50, whose denser breast tissue limits the effectiveness of mammography. The sensitivity of mammography alone, in women with dense breast tissue, is as low as 31%. Thermography is also beneficial for women of all ages who, for any reason, are unable or unwilling to undergo routine mammography. It is a safe and very useful screening tool post mastectomy or post augmentation, to screen for breast health and to screen for breast cancer in men.
Because every woman’s breasts have a unique thermal pattern, it is important to establish a stable baseline before proceeding to routine annual screening. This is done by obtaining an initial thermogram, followed by another study three months later. If there is no interval change between the two studies, then your baseline has been established. In other words, we know what is normal for you. These baseline studies are then archived for annual comparison. Any change from this baseline is suggestive of developing pathology.
True Early Detection
Identifying Abnormalities Years Ahead of Standard Preventative Sceening Methods
A breast cancer growth has grown for 7-8 years and reached 4-10 billion cells before a mammogram can detect it. Thermography dectects physiological changes in as little as one year when the cancer cells have doubled only 4 times vs the typical 32 doublings prior to detection by mammography.
It takes years for a tumor to grow. Therefor the earliest possible indication of abnormality is needed to allow for the earliest possible treatment and prevention.
Breast cancers tend to grow significantly faster in younger women under 50.
Age and Average Tumor Doubling Times
Age 50 & Under 80 Days
50 - 70 157 Days
Over 70 188 Days
Source: Cancer 71:3547-3551, 1993
The faster a malignant tumor grows, the more infrared radiation it generates. For younger women in particular, results from thermography screening can lead to earlier detection and, ultimately, longer life.
According to the American College of Clinical Thermology (ACCT), “While X-rays, ultrasound, and mammography show us the structure of the body, they will miss such things as active inflammation and increased blood supply as found in many illnesses. DITI has been shown to be effective in finding early signs of breast cancer up to eight years before mammogram can.”