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Optimal Breast Health Support

What to Know About Breast Thermography?

When used in conjunction with traditional mammograms, breast thermography scans can help increase your chance of early cancer detection and survival.

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Thermography uses an infrared camera to take pictures of the heat patterns and blood flow within the tissues of your body. Most commonly, it’s used to scan breast tissue, offering an early warning sign for medical complications, such as breast cancer. This type of scan is known as ‘Breast Thermography.’

What is Breast Thermography?

Breast thermography is a type of thermography known as digital infrared thermal imaging (DITI). DITI shows the temperature variances on the surface of your breast, helping your doctor identify cancer.

How does this work? Cancer cells need oxygen-rich blood to grow and multiply. This causes blood flow to increase near tumors — spiking the body’s temperature in that particular area.

Infrared Thermography Scans Are Not a Replacement for Mammograms

On February 25, 2019, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) released a warning that breast thermography scans are not a replacement for mammograms. They cautioned individuals to be aware, “that health spas, homeopathic clinics, mobile health units, and other health care facilities are using thermography inappropriately as a standalone tool for breast cancer screening or diagnosis.”

The FDA’s very clear warning comes on the heels of a Good Morning America segment released February 13, 2019. The segment showcased two breast cancer survivors whose thermography scans showed they were ‘cancer-free,’ when in fact they were not — a fact the patients ultimately learned through a traditional mammogram.

Early detection is the single biggest factor in breast cancer survival rates.

Thermography Combined with Mammograms Provides an Added Layer of Protection

The question of why to get a breast thermography skin isn’t an issue of “thermography vs mammogram.” Rather, it’s “thermography and mammogram.”

Combing the power of thermography with traditional mammograms gives you an added layer of protection for your breast health. In an early study, Dr. Harold J. Isard looked at the accuracy of screening in 10,055 women using clinical examination, mammograms, and/or thermograms separately and together over a 4-year period. 

The results showed, that while mammograms provided a higher level of accurate diagnosis, the “clinical accuracy was enhanced by the supplemental use of mammography and thermography.”

Thermography correctly diagnosed 61% of these women, while mammograms accurately predicted 83%; combining both imaging techniques rendered an 89% accuracy rate.

Specifically, “Thermography correctly diagnosed 61% of these women, while mammograms accurately predicted 83%; combining both imaging techniques rendered an 89% accuracy rate.”

Breast cancer can impact both men and women. Regular screening — especially for those with a family history — is important for catching it early.

When Was Thermography First Invented

The roots of thermography have been traced back to a papyrus document from 1700 BC that associated the temperature with disease. By 400 BC, reports of physicians employing a primitive form of thermography by applying a thin coat of mud to a patient’s body and observing the different drying rates have been reported. 

However, it wasn’t until the 1950s that thermography scans were introduced. Initially there was hope within the medical community that this could be an alternative to mammograms. However, mammograms were shown to still be essential for cancer screenings in a 1970s study. 

How do I find a Qualified Place Offering Thermography Near Me?

A thermography scan involves two steps:

  1. Imaging - Taking a series of images, including the front and side views of your breasts.
  2. Analyzing & Reporting - Your doctor will analyze the heat patterns shown within your scans to identify any potential worrisome areas. 

Because thermography relies so heavily on a doctor’s ability to analyze the images, it’s important to work with someone who has extensive knowledge of the body. There are a variety of places that now offer thermography, including health spas and beauty clinics. 

These institutions rarely have qualified doctors on staff, meaning the individual analyzing your scans may not have the expertise needed to accurately identify any troublesome spots. 

Additionally, you’ll want to look at the literature promoting the scans. Are they claiming that thermography is an alternative to mammograms? This is a big warning flag that you may want to look for a different clinic offering thermography near you.

When you're battling for the chance to spend more time with those who matter most, you deserve every tool and resource available.

Does Thermography Have Any Side Effects or Risks?

Thermography has no known risks or side effects, because it’s a radiation-free scan. This means you can get thermography scans as often as you and your doctor deem necessary. Furthermore, it means choosing to have a thermography scan in addition to your traditional mammogram doesn’t pose the potential threat of exposing your body to unwanted, cancer-inducing agents. 

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