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Thermography as a breast cancer screening technique

Janet van Dam – Clinical thermographer, Low Carb Nutrition, Homeopath

17 July 2023 / Original Internet article published November 2022

RESEARCHING this morning some articles relating to breast thermal imaging I came across this really excellent article from November 2022 that has been reviewing the value of thermal imaging in detecting breast disease. It is really worthwhile reading the whole thing, but I just wanted to highlight a few things that were worth mentioning and adding a few of my own comments. I believe this information could be really important to a lot of women, who are still not aware that breast Thermography is available and a valid and risk free test for breast health.

The interesting point I thought was that they say that mammography has more limitations than thermography and that breast thermography, due to better and more accurate cameras, interpretation software and artificial intelligence based on years of data of what signs of breast cancer look like in women, is a highly accurate and effective way of not only finding signs of breast disease, but also can help in the prediction of disease in the future without causing any harm to the person.

Please note that they used the word diagnosis a lot, but realistically the only way to diagnose is by looking at tissue by doing a biopsy. Neither mammography, ultrasound, MRI or thermal imaging are diagnostic but can help in the process of diagnosing.

“Digital infrared thermal imaging is the thermography used to diagnose breast cancer. This method shows high accuracy and is a cost-effective form of diagnosis. The concept behind this test is that as cancer cells multiply, they need more oxygen-rich blood for growth. As there is an increase in blood flow to the tumor, the temperature around the tumor also increases.

This process is called angiogenesis or neo-vascularity (birth of new blood vessels) and is abnormal since the circulation in the breasts (and body) should never change. This is why it genuinely is important to assess at regular intervals (yearly) to spot any changes early. Since thermography is non-invasive and non-radiation this can be safely done often and without causing harm.

Malignant cells discharge nitric oxide into the bloodstream and cause impairment in the microcirculation [22]. This released nitric oxide, along with the active growth of the cancerous cells, increases blood circulation and temperature in that particular region. Therefore, evaluating these differences in temperature leads to the detection of the malignant region in the breast [23]”.

Other important advantages of thermography are:

  • Breast density plays no role in the accuracy since we do not need to look at structure. Women of all ages can be assessed equally accurate.

  • Safe for larger breasts, small breasts and breast implants

  • Safe for cystic, fibrocystic breasts and breast expected to have a tumour

  • Accurate in monitoring mastectomies and keeping an eye on the remaining breast

  • Safe for post-lumpectomy

  • Safe and accurate in pregnant and breast-feeding women

  • Hormonal assessment of breasts, important throughout the whole menopausal time, during contraceptive use and HRT since 80% of breast tumours are oestrogen sensitive

  • Breast lump assessment. Thermography can in most cases identify whether or not a lump is active or inactive due to assessing the heat patterns and vascularity in the breast and around the lump. This can help putting your mind at ease or help you make a decision on what to do next.

The article mentions that mammography is low dose X-ray. My understanding is that the 4 images taken are equal to 40 chest X-rays and it is known that over time this radiation is accumulative and can actually cause breast tumours. This fact is mentioned in the article. Since the breasts contain no bones and is soft tissue, for the mammogram to find tiny calcifications in the breast tissue, it must send quite a bit of radiation through the tissue.

70% of breast cancer when detected are 3 cm in size

In dense breast tissue, finding a calcification is even harder and this is why up to 1 in 5 women have a false negative mammogram (20%) and feel reassured they have no cancer, but this is inaccurate.

There is also a high chance of false positives if the image looks abnormal. This could be due to dense breast tissue, biopsies and scar tissue from lumpectomies, surgery and of course, oestrogen dominance.

“Regarding early detection, thermography outperforms other modalities. Thermography can detect changes such as vasodilatation, angiogenesis, and severe flexion of blood vessels that can be seen in early cancer stages [36]. Using machine learning and artificial intelligence-based thermography for screening reduces human mistakes.

Disadvantages of thermography: The problem with the thermography test is that it is difficult to distinguish the cause of the increase in heat. The warm part of the breast may be a sign of breast cancer, but it may also indicate a non-cancerous condition such as mastitis [37]. Because when there is inflammation in the breast due to bacterial or viral infection, the temperature of the tissues increases, affecting the thermography results”.

Regarding the latter: this is absolutely true, like anything, thermography is not 100% accurate, but wonderfully very close. To understand more about the heat patterns and rule out as best as possible any assumptions, I take down detailed information, not only of the breasts, but also if there are other things going on with your health that may contribute to this activity. Contraception, HRT but also blood pressure medication can all affect the heat patterns.

The TAS Interpretation service (trained by Dr Gautherie) looks at 20 signs statistically related to breast disease and together with the medical and physical information the assessment can be made to the highest standard.

Thermography has advanced significantly to match mammography’s level of accuracy [41]

“Just as a fingerprint is unique, each patient has a specific infrared map of the breast tissue. Moreover, any refinement of this infrared map on the images is taken for months to years. It can consist of an early sign of abnormality. In patients without cancer, these examination results are used to monitor the possibility of cancer risk in the future. By monitoring the patient’s breast health with the help of infrared imaging, self-breast examinations, clinical examinations, etc., a woman can have a much better possibility of detecting the malignancy in tissues on time, preventing the invasive growth of the tumor and leading to the severity of the disease”.

Thermography is unique in being able to visualise activity rather than structure and has a valid predictive value for the development of breast disease in the future, which give it the edge over other structural tests. For the whole article go here

For more information or appointment, please do not hesitate to contact me or any of the clinics you can find on my website.

Janet van Dam – Certified Clinical Thermographer

Tel/WA 07539 366 283 /


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