Thermography – The Radiation-Free Adjunct to Mammography


7 Reasons Why You Might Want to Add A Thermogram to Your Breast Health Routine

Did you know that the mammogram is not the only cool kid on the block?  October is breast cancer awareness month.  Virtually every person, entity, sport team, TV show, and advertising campaign participates.  This is a good thing.  It also seems like the perfect time to write an article about breast health and, more specifically, a screening tool of which you might not be aware.
We all know someone who has had breast cancer.  For me, it was my stepmother.  It is scary because it is so common and attacks women (and men) of every age.  It does not discriminate. In the near future, we will be posting an article about the functional medicine approach to breast health.  In this article, though, I would like to let you know the facts about thermography.
Last Tuesday, the American Cancer Society released new recommendations for breast screening via mammography.  For a good article summarizing the changes, click here. Not all medical groups and associations agree with the American Cancer Society though. In fact, the recommendations differ greatly between groups.[1]   Most medical groups do agree that screening saves lives[2] but do not agree that screening by way of radiation is the only way to go.[3]  [Click to Tweet] Without delving into the various positions about thermography, here are the facts about what it does (and does not) do:
  1. “Thermography is a means of measuring the heat (thermo) coming from a body.”[4] “Thermography ***map[s] the heat on the surface of the breast using a special heat-sensing camera.”[5]
  2. “Thermography is non-invasive, safe and painless – no radiation or compression is used.” [6]
  3. “The use of Digital Infrared Imaging is based on the principle that metabolic activity and vascular circulation in both pre-cancerous tissue and the area surrounding a developing breast cancer is almost always higher than in normal breast tissue.”[7]
  4. The FDA approved breast thermography as an adjunct diagnostic breast cancer screening procedure in 1982.[8]
  5. “Thermography does not prevent breast cancer by itself. A woman and her healthcare provider must be proactive when there is a suspicious indication.”[9]
  6. Because thermography works in a different way, it may allow for earlier detection of cancer cells.  Earlier detection = earlier treatment.  “[W]hen a tumor is in the early stages of development, it requires blood flow to grow and survive. New blood vessels form in a distinct pattern around the tumor to provide it with this blood flow (angiogenesis) and we are able to see this process occurring with thermographic imaging as early as two years into the development process.”[10] “The advantage of the thermogram is that we can measure inflammation at an early stage – perhaps even before cancer (a disease of inflammation) has a chance to develop.”[11]  “Since thermal imaging detects changes at the cellular level, studies suggest that this test can detect activity 8 to 10 years before any other test. This makes it unique in that it affords us the opportunity to view changes before the actual formation of the tumor. Studies have shown that by the time a tumor has grown to sufficient size to be detectable by physical examination or mammography, it has in fact been growing for about seven years achieving more than 25 doublings of the malignant cell colony. At 90 days there are two cells, at one year there are 16 cells, and at five years there are 1,048,576 cells–an amount that is still undetectable by a mammogram.”[12]
  7. Thermographers should be board-certified or provisionally certified clinical thermologists or technicians.
Hopefully, this article will give you the basic information you need to discuss thermography as an option with your health-care provider.
Caroline Boardman
October 25, 2015
Functional Endocrinology of Ohio
Akron: 2800 S. Arlington Road, Akron, Ohio 44312 (330) 644-5488
Cleveland: 6200 Rockside Woods Blvd., Ste. 100, Independence, Ohio 44131 (216) 236-0060
Dr. Keith S. Ungar and Dr. Andrew Kender, Chiropractic Physicians
To schedule an appointment, click here.

[2] Id.
[12], citing H. Spitalier et al., “Does Infrared Thermography Truly Have a Role in Present-Day Breast Cancer Management?” in M. Gautherie and E. Albert, eds., Biomedical Thermology: Proceedings of an International Symposium (New York: A. R. Liss, 1982), pp. 269-78; R. Amalric et al., “Does Infrared Thermography Truly Have a Role in Present-Day Breast Cancer Management?” Progress in Clinical and Biological Research, vol. 107 (1982), pp. 269-78.

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