I recently stumbled upon another medical report about thermography. This study was performed in Mexico, with a focus on preventing breast cancer death among populations throughout the world that are not wealthy enough to have expensive x-ray mammography machines and breast radiologists in every small-town hospital. It was also noted that the investigators were looking for a screening technology that was not painful and did not expose women to radiation.
The researchers obtained thermograms on 454 women of varied ages and circumstances, including pregnancy and breastfeeding. The idea was simply to find an accurate but affordable means of reducing the breast cancer death rate in the Third World. The study demonstrated that infrared mammography accomplished exactly what they wanted. But we in the United States are just as deserving of accurate and affordable means of reducing death as the Third World is!
Breast Thermography offers women a number of distinct advantages. For example:
Infrared light was first discovered in 1800. It wasn’t until 1929 that advancements made possible military uses, starting in Britain. Infrared sensors were used to detect aircraft at night. Thermographic cameras were put into operation in the Korean War. Since then, prices began to drop enough for newer cameras to be used in civil applications, such as in security, firefighting, and health care.
Simply put, the infrared camera does nothing to the breasts or surrounding tissues. It merely detects temperature differences on the surfaces of breasts. Using standardized criteria, experienced thermologists then identify specific patterns of temperatures that signal healthy versus concerning breast tissue.
When abnormalities are detected, the woman and a doctor trained in thermography formulate a plan together to evaluate the abnormalities and reduce her cancer risk. Follow-up thermograms at appropriate intervals are used to determine whether abnormalities are improving or becoming more concerning.
In the present study, thermographic mammography correctly detected 87% of the breast cancers in the sample, while only misidentifying as abnormal 11% that were found to be normal. This is a phenomenal detection rate for a device that costs a fraction of what hospitals and imaging centers pay for x-ray mammography machines.
Another small study published last year found that thermography accurately detected cancer in 60 of 65 patients (92.31%) while x-ray mammography detected it in 62 (95.38%) of them. Interestingly, whereas x-ray picked up 2 more proven cases than infrared technology, infrared picked up the 3 that x-ray missed!
In other words, both imaging techniques will always miss a few cases each, but they’re not the same cases. Still, the official word from radiologists, other medical specialists, and the government is that thermography is not a substitute for x-ray mammography.
At the same time, it is important to understand that neither infrared nor x-ray mammography machines actually diagnose breast cancer. They only detect abnormalities that warrant additional investigation. Diagnosis occurs when a piece of breast tissue is examined under the microscope in a laboratory. This is called pathologic review of a biopsy specimen.
Unfortunately, as has been well-documented in recent studies, biopsy has been found to over-diagnose breast cancer, leading in many cases to unnecessary disfiguring surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
If you or a loved one wishes to take advantage of infrared thermography technology in Moab, contact us at (435) 259-4466 for an appointment with the thermographer. She will be in Moab next on September 15. For our patients in Central and Northern Utah, contact her directly at (801) 885-4616 for an appointment in her Lehi office. Click here to learn more about breast thermography.
Discover Breast Thermography—Discover peace of mind and information that puts you in the driver’s seat when it comes to your health!
Ever looking after your health,
Ray Andrew, MD