What is Thermography?
“In medicine, a procedure in which a heat-sensing infrared camera is used to record the surface heat produced by different parts of the body. Abnormal tissue growth can cause temperature changes, which may show up on the thermogram. Thermography can be used to diagnose breast cancer and other tumours” – U.S National Cancer Institute.
Why Use Breast Thermography?
Approximately 1 out of every 9 New Zealand women will develop breast cancer. It is important to use safe methods to detect cancers early – this gives the best chance for reversing the changes early and increasing survival rates. Proper use of breast self-exams, physician exams, thermography and mammography together provide the earliest detection system available. If breast cancer is treated in the earliest stages, cure rates greater than 95% are possible.
What Is Breast Thermography?
Breast Thermography is both comfortable and safe. It does not use ionizing radiation or compression; therefore there is no trauma to the breast tissue. This makes it an ideal non-invasive tool for women of all ages.
By carefully examining changes in the temperature and blood vessels of the breasts, including comparing left and right, signs of possible cancer or pre-cancerous cell growth may be detected in the very early stages of development. Because of breast thermography’s extreme sensitivity, these temperature variations and vascular changes may be among the earliest signs of breast cancer and/or a pre-cancerous state of the breast.
How Does Breast Thermography Work?
Thermography measures the infrared radiation (heat) which is constantly being emitted from the surface of the human skin. Skin is an organ that breathes, exchanges gases with the environment, cools us as well as keeps us warm by letting heat out or keeping it in by controlling the amount of circulation, or blood flow, in the skin. This thermoregulation is done without conscious thought – it’s totally automatic.
The procedure is based on the principle that activity in both pre-cancerous tissue and the area surrounding a developing breast cancer is almost always higher than in the normal breast. Since pre-cancerous and cancerous masses are highly active tissues, they need an abundant supply of nutrients to maintain their growth. They do this by sending out chemicals to keep existing blood vessels open, recruit dormant vessels, and create new ones (neo-angiogenesis). This process results in an increase in regional surface temperatures of the adjacent breast tissue.
Abnormal thermographic scans of the breast clearly demonstrate abnormal areas of heat. This gives the clinician an alert that something might be wrong with the physiology of the breast. It could be an infection, inflammatory disease, trauma or cancer.
Is Breast Thermography Reliable?
Breast thermography is not a stand-alone tool in the screening and diagnosis of breast cancer. It is adjunctive and has an important role as an early risk indicator and to monitor of treatment. When a thermogram reveals changes, a closer look at the diet, exposure to environmental pollution, toxins and lifestyle is in order. If any changes indicate it, clinical blood work, ultrasound and mammography is highly recommended. When these test results are negative or equivocal, ongoing monitoring (eg quarterly to annually) should be performed in those whose thermograms were suspicious.
Breast thermography has been researched for over 30 years, and over 800 peer-reviewed breast thermography studies exist in the index-medicus. In this data base well over 250,000 women have been included as study participants. Some of these studies have followed patients up to 12 years.
Studies show that:
- An abnormal infrared image is the single-most important marker of high risk for developing breast cancer
- A persistent abnormal thermogram carries with it a 22 times higher risk of future breast cancer
- When thermography is added to a woman’s regular breast health checkup, a 61% increase in survival rate has been obtained
- Finally, when used as part of a multimodal approach (clinical examination + mammography + thermography), 95% of early-stage cancers will be detected.
Book your Breast Thermogram today – call the Auckland Thermography Clinic on (09) 522 0020
Visit their website: www.clinicalthermography.co.nz