What is Thermography?
Thermography is an FDA approved imaging technique that is used to evaluate health. It measures heat emitted by tissue cells that are excessively metabolically active and exhibit other variant behaviors characteristic of abnormal (cancerous or pre-cancerous) cells. Suspicious clusters of cells begin to generate blood vessels and follow growth patterns that are unique from surrounding healthy tissue – characteristics that generate more heat and can be detected by thermography equipment.
How Can Thermography Help Detect Breast Abnormalities?
Breast Thermography is based on the premise that before the growth of abnormal cells is possible, a constant blood supply must be circulated to the growth area. Chemical and blood vessel 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 metabolic tissues, they need an abundant supply of nutrients to maintain their growth and this can increase the surface temperatures of the breast. Simply put, pre-cancerous and cancerous masses require plenty of blood to grow. More blood equals more heat. Breast Thermography measures the heat generated by the increased circulation in the breast during this process. Thermography does not detect tumours, it detects the blood flow that the tumour requires to grow. This is why Breast Thermography is an excellent early warning tool. Thermography has the ability to spot the increased blood flow to an area BEFORE the tumour has fully developed!
How does Thermography compare to Mammography?
Studies have shown Thermography to be 90% accurate in detecting thermal signs that may indicate the presence of breast cancer. The 10% of breast tumors that are missed on Thermography are more commonly the less aggressive and slow growing tumors. Mammography misses 20% of breast tumors and up to 40%, especially in females under the age of 50, i.e. those with more aggressive tumors.
Thermography does not replace mammography but is used in addition to increase the sensitivity of breast cancer screening. Where as mammography, ultrasound, CT scans and MRI’s are used to identify tumors AFTER the tumor has been formed, Thermography has the ability to identify the first thermal and chemical changes that may lead to tumor formation PRIOR to the existence of a tumor. Mammography is an image of the anatomy of the body. Thermography is an image of the function of the body.
How is it Performed?
A state-of-the-art FDA approved infrared imaging camera measures skin temperature and transmits this information to a computer which converts these measurements into images. These thermographic findings are evaluated based on 32 standard thermological signs and quantification criteria as set forth and accepted standards of clinical thermology. Temperature measurements will differ in various parts of the body, but in a normal healthy individual, the temperature changes should be relatively symmetrical. Once the images are acquired in a controlled setting they are sent for processing to a board certified clinical Thermologist for analysis and interpretation. Your written report is then returned to your imaging center in a few days and presented back to you with an explanation and follow up recommendations. Studies show that when breast thermography is used as part of a multimodal approach (clinical examination + thermography + mammography), 95% of early stage cancers will be detected.
- Do not smoke for 2 hours before the test.
- Do not use lotions, powders, deodorant or heavy make up the day of the examination
- Avoid sun exposure or tanning bed 2 days before a test.
- Diet – No heavy meals or hot drinks 2 hours before test.
- Medicine – no metabolic stimulants 2 days before test (fat burners/diet pills).
- No exercising 4 hours prior to examination.
- No chiropractic adjustment prior to examination.
- Do not wear restrictive clothing such as a bra to the examination.
- No shaving on the same day as the examination to avoid skin abrasions.
- If bathing it must be no closer than 1 hour before the examination.
- If you are nursing, please try to nurse no closer than 1 hour before examination.
- Please bring copies of previous Thermography reports or recent ultrasounds and/or Mammograms to the examination.