What is Thermography?

Thermography, also known as Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging (DITI), is a state of the art clinical test used to detect and record images of the body’s heat. Thermography detects increased temperature on the skin which is caused by an increased flow of blood. The increased blood flow is caused by inflammation, which can indicate infection, disease or the growth of a tumor.

Thermography is both accurate and precise enough to capture subtle abnormal changes in cellular and tissue function, and increased blood flow caused by inflammation, infection and disease, all in real time. This unique feature of thermography is especially important in breast health, where inflammation and increased blood flow often leads to breast cancer, the third deadliest cancer and the most life-threatening cancer for women.

A Review of Breast Thermography:

Over 30 years of research compiling over 800 studies in the index-medicus exist. What follows is a pertinent sample review of the research concerning the clinical application of diagnostic infrared imaging (thermography) for use in breast cancer screening. All the citations are taken from the index-medicus peer-reviewed research literature or medical textbooks. The authors are either PhD’s with their doctorate in a representative field, or physicians primarily in the specialties of oncology, radiology, gynecology, and internal medicine.The following list is a summary of the informational text that follows:

  • In 1982, the FDA approved breast thermography as an adjunctive diagnostic breast cancer screening procedure.
  • Breast thermography has undergone extensive research since the late 1950’s.
  • Over 800 peer-reviewed studies on breast thermography exist in the index-medicus literature.
  • In this database, well over 300,000 women have been included as study participants.
  • The numbers of participants in many studies are very large — 10K, 37K, 60K, 85K.
  • Some of these studies have followed patients up to 12 years.
  • Strict standardized interpretation protocols have been established for over 15 years.
  • Breast thermography has an average sensitivity and specificity of 90%.
  • An abnormal thermogram is 10 times more significant as a future risk indicator for breast cancer than a first order family history of the disease .
  • A persistent abnormal thermogram carries with it a 22x higher risk of future breast cancer.
    An abnormal infrared image is the single most important marker of high risk for developing breast cancer.
    Breast thermography has the ability to detect the first signs that a cancer may be forming up to 10 years before any other procedure can detect it.
  • Extensive clinical trials have shown that breast thermography significantly augments the long-term survival rates of its recipients by as much as 61%.
  • When used as part of a multimodal approach (clinical examination + mammography + thermography) 95% of early stage cancers will be detected.

The Relationship between Heat, Inflammation, Disease and Thermography

  • Chronic inflammation is the root cause of many diseases and can lead to cancer.
  • Inflammation causes tissue damage and stimulates the production of chemicals and increased blood flow. This raises the temperature of the affected areas in the body.
  • Thermography detects and captures high quality images of this increased temperature, which indicates abnormal tissue function.
  • Regular thermography screening offers the ability to monitor heat patterns in the body and catch abnormalities early.
  • When abnormalities are caught early, they are reversible.
  • Thermography offers a proactive approach to reversing any sign of inflammation.

Why consider thermography

  • One out of eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
  • Inflammatory breast cancer in which there is no lump.
  • To monitor any abnormal changes in women with Fibrosyctic breast disease.
  • Thermography is effective for women between the ages of 30-50, who normally have denser breast tissue and cannot benefit well from mammography.
  • Thermography is ideal for women with breast implants who are unable to undergo routine mammography.
  • Thermography can see all lymph areas (the area under the armpits), while mammography can only see the tissue that was pressed between the two plates.

Breast Cancer Risks

  • About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12.4%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
  • In 2018, an estimated 266,120 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 63,960 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.
  • About 2,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2018. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000.
  • Breast cancer incidence rates in the U.S. began decreasing in the year 2000, after increasing for the previous two decades. They dropped by 7% from 2002 to 2003 alone. One theory is that this decrease was partially due to the reduced use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) by women after the results of a large study called the Women’s Health Initiative were published in 2002. These results suggested a connection between HRT and increased breast cancer risk.
  • About 40,920 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2018 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1989. Women under 50 have experienced larger decreases. These decreases are thought to be the result of treatment advances, earlier detection through screening, and increased awareness.
  • For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.
  • Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women. In 2017, it’s estimated that about 30% of newly diagnosed cancers in women will be breast cancers.
  • In women under 45, breast cancer is more common in African-American women than white women. Overall, African-American women are more likely to die of breast cancer. For Asian, Hispanic, and Native-American women, the risk of developing and dying from breast cancer is lower.
  • As of January 2018, there are more than 3.1 million women with a history of breast cancer in the U.S. This includes women currently being treated and women who have finished treatment.
  • A woman’s risk of breast cancer nearly doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Less than 15% of women who get breast cancer have a family member diagnosed with it.
  • About 5-10% of breast cancers can be linked to gene mutations (abnormal changes) inherited from one’s mother or father.
  • Mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are the most common. On average, women with a BRCA1 mutation have a 55-65% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. For women with a BRCA2 mutation, the risk is 45%. Breast cancer that is positive for the
  • BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations tends to develop more often in younger women. An increased ovarian cancer risk is also associated with these genetic mutations. In men, BRCA2 mutations are associated with a lifetime breast cancer risk of about 6.8%; BRCA1 mutations are a less frequent cause of breast cancer in men.
  • About 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These occur due to genetic mutations that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations.
  • The most significant risk factors for breast cancer are gender (being a woman) and age (growing older).

Source: Breastcancer.org is a nonprofit organization dedicated to informing and empowering individuals to protect their breast health and overcome the challenges of breast cancer.