This site provides information about the role of breast thermography or Digital Infrared Imaging (DII for short) in breast cancer risk assessment and prevention. Our mission is to empower women to be pro-active regarding their breast health. We strive to provide the highest quality imaging services to aid women and their health care providers in determining the necessity for further evaluation, and subsequent prevention and/or treatment.
As the premier certified digital infrared imaging center in Shasta County, we are proud to offer our patients state-of-the-art computerized image processing, and interpretation by a board certified thermologist.
The following illustrates the role of thermography (also called thermal imaging, digital infrared imaging, medical infrared imaging, and computerized infrared imaging) in breast cancer risk assessment, and as a possible method of monitoring progress of newly proposed cancer treatments.
Current statistics reveal that 1 in 8 women will develop invasive cancer, based of a life expectancy of 85 years (1). If treated in the earliest stages, breast cancer cure rates greater than 95% are possible (7,9). The combined use of thermography, mammography, physical exams, and properly executed self-exams provide women with a 98% detection rate of all early stage cancers (7,9). Studies also reveal up to 61% increase in survival rates when thermography is added to a women’s regular breast check-ups (7).
Thermography has the ability to warn women of angiogenesis, which can be the earliest sign that a cancer may be forming, thus allowing for prompt and timely treatment.
Interview with Michelle Hodge
Women with a family history are at a greater risk for getting breast cancer, but 80% of women who get breast cancer have NO family history of the disease (1). Thermography provides much needed individual breast cancer risk assessment. Certain thermographic risk markers can warn a woman that she needs to be vigilant in monitoring her breast health. This gives her time to make changes to lower as many risk factors as possible and initiate a more anti-carcinogenic lifestyle.
An abnormal thermogram is the single most important marker of high risk for developing future breast cancer, 10 times more significant than a family history of the disease (9).
The single greatest risk factor for developing breast cancer is a woman’s lifetime exposure of the breasts to estrogen. It has been determined that a woman can have up to 50 times more estrogen in her breast tissue than her blood levels indicate (10). With the help of her doctor, a woman make changes to balance her hormone levels and therefore lower her risk. Doctors can also use thermography before and after initiating any treatment that affects breast physiology, such as chemoprevention (Tamoxifin), chemotherapy, and HRT.
Breast thermography plays an unprecedented role in breast cancer prevention due to its ability to detect the possibility of increased estrogen activity in the breasts.
Thermography – HomeBreast cancer is also the number one cause of death of women aged 22 to 59 (1). Breast cancers in younger women are usually more aggressive and have poorer survival rates. Mammography is difficult to interpret for pre-menopausal women due to the density of the breast.
In addition, women who are on hormonal replacement therapy, or those with large breasts, fibrocystic breasts, or breast enhancements cause reading difficulties for mammograms. (2,6). Thermography interpretation is not hindered by these situations and is safe for women who are pregnant. But keep in mind that thermography is beneficial for women of all ages and has an average accuracy rate of 90%.
Breast thermography offers women under 40 an accurate, non-invasive method of monitoring their breast health, beginning with baseline screening at age 20.
According to a study published in the January 2003 publication of the American Journal of Radiology, thermography was determined to be a safe, noninvasive, and valuable adjunct to mammography in determining whether a lesion was benign or malignant (11). DII was found to have a 97% sensitivity for detecting breast cancer in women who had a suspicious mammogram requiring a biopsy (11). Thermography offers women and their health care providers additional beneficial information when a mammogram is normal, equivocal, or when considering the need for a biopsy.
Unlike technologies such as mammography, MRI, CT, ultrasound, or PET scans which detect a the presence of an existing tumor, breast thermography has the ability to give a warning signal far in advance of invasive tumor growth. Recent information suggests that DII may also help to monitor the effects of some of the newly proposed and deemed “promising” antiangiogenic cancer treatments (2,6). It is clear that breast thermography offers women information that no other testing procedure can provide.
Adams, F. The Genuine Works Of Hippocrates. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1939.
Ahlgren P., M.D. et al.” Is it Time to Reassess the Value of Infrared Breast Imaging?” Primary Care & Cancer (NCI) 18.2 (1998).
American Cancer Society – Breast Cancer Guidelines and Statistics, 2009-2010
Arora N, et. al., Am J Surg. 2008 Oct;196(4):523-6
Belliveau N., M.D., et al. “Infrared Imaging of the Breast: Initial Reappraisal Using High-Resolution Digital Technology in 100 Successive Cases of Stage I and II Breast Cancer.” The Breast Journal 4. 4 (1998).
Gamigami P., M.D. Atlas of Mammography: New Early Signs in Breast Cancer. Blackwell Science, 1996.
Gautherie M., Ph.D. “Thermobiological Assessment of Benign and Malignant Breast Diseases.” Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol. 147.8 (1983): 861-869.
Gros C., M.D., M. Gautherie, Ph.D. “Breast Thermography and Cancer Risk Prediction.” Cancer 45.1 (1980): 51-56.
Haehnel P., M.D., et al. “Long-Term Assessment of Breast Cancer Risk by Thermal Imaging.” Biomedical Thermology (1980): 279-301.
Jefcoate, C.R., et al: Chapter 5 – Tissue-Specific Synthesis and Oxidative Metabolism of Estrogens. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, No. 27, 95-112, 2000
Keyserlingk J., M.D. “Time to Reassess the Value of Infrared Breast Imaging?” Oncology News Int. 6.9 (1997).
Nyirjesy I., M.D. et al. “Clinical Evaluation, Mammography and Thermography in the Diagnosis of Breast Carcinoma.” Thermology 1 (1986): 170-173.