Few things strike fear in the hearts of women more than breast cancer. While breast cancer incidence has increased substantially over the past 20 years, advances in medicine have increased a woman’s chance for survival. Even though thermography was FDA approved as an adjunctive screening procedure for breast disease in 1982, few women are aware of this useful technology.
Thermography uses a digital infrared thermal imaging to detect and record the infrared heat radiating from the surface of the body. Clusters of abnormal cells that can develop into a cancer often have an increased blood supply that leads to an elevation in the temperature of the skin over the area. Thermography, when used as an adjunct to mammography has the ability to warn women, years before any other procedure, that inflammation is present that could later become something more serious in nature. This is the best prevention: Find inflammation that can be addressed at the earliest stages.
A positive infrared scan does not mean you have cancer. The increased heat may be suggestive of presence of many different breast abnormalities such as mastitis, benign tumors, fibrocystic breast disease, and cancer.
Who Will Benefit Most from Thermography
Women of all ages can benefit from breast thermography screening. Combining thermography with mammography, it is especially useful for younger women 35 to 40yo who are known to have denser breast tissue denser breast tissue. The assessment is particularly useful for women who have breast implants or have had breast augmentation. For women who have had breast cancer, an infra-red breast scan is an excellent way to assess the health breast that did not have cancer for early signs of inflammation that can be addressed naturally with supplements and diet. Thermography is also useful in women who, for many reasons, are unable to undergo routine mammography.
Why Thermography is Not Routinely Used
Thermography can be used in sports medicine, dentistry, podiatry, rheumatology, and neurology. In the past, thermography was used to identify and isolate the location of the injury when no other test could. As these findings were often used in lawsuits, the insurance industry took steps to diminish the value of thermography in courts of law. For example, if someone was claiming that they were still in pain from an automobile accident or through a Workers Compensation claim, thermography was used to locate the pain. Pain is a subjective complaint; if thermography did not identify areas of inflammation, the lawsuit was often lost.
Through lobbying efforts to the AMA, Medicare councils, and Trial Lawyers Association, the value of thermography was discounted and not allowed as “evidence” in Court. This resulted in loss of confidence by insurance companies who began to deny payment for the test. Since the early 1990s, thermography has falling out of favor and use has been limited for this fabulous medical tool.
More than 800 peer-reviewed studies exist, involving more than 250,000 study participants describing its usefulness. The number of women in the studies range from 37,000 to 118,000, and some women were followed for up to 12 years. An evaluation of these studies revealed that breast thermography has an average sensitivity and specificity of 90% for detecting early changes in the breast that can possibly lead to cancer.
Studies Have Shown:
• Gautherie identified in 1980 that patients with a thermogram staged as TH IV or THV had a 90% chance of having cancer at that time. More interestingly, 38% of 1245 patients with TH III (suspicious but not conclusive) developed cancer within 4 years – if there is no intervention.
• In a study from 1998, 100 new cases of ductal carcinoma in situ were diagnosed pre-operatively using a clinical breast exam, mammography, and infrared imaging. The number of tumors diagnosed with mammography alone was 85%; the number of tumors diagnosed by including a breast exam and breast thermography increased to 95%. Reference: The Breast Journal, Volume 4, Number 4, 1998, 245-251
• When added to regular clinical breast exams by “highly trained fingers” of a professional, survival rates (if cancer is detected) are increased by up to 61%.