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What is Thermography?

Thermography measures the infrared radiation (heat) which is constantly radiating (emitting) away from the surface of the human skin. Skin as an organ breathes, exchanges gases with the environment, cools us as well as keeps us warm by letting heat out or keeping it in by controlling the amount of circulation, or blood below, in the skin. This automatic regulation is done without conscious thought and is controlled by the autonomic nervous system via the sympathetics. The whole process is called thermoregulation.The procedure is based on the principle that chemical and blood vessel activity in both pre-anomalous tissue and the area surrounding a developing breast anomaly is almost always higher than in the normal breast. Since pre-anomalous and anomalous masses are highly metabolic tissues, they need an abundant supply of nutrients to maintain their growth. In order to do this they increase circulation to their cells by sending out chemicals to keep existing blood vessels open, recruit dormant vessels, and create new ones (neoangiogenesis). This process results in an increase in regional surface temperatures of the breast.

Abnormal thermographic scans of the breast clearly demonstrate abnormal areas of heat. This gives the clinician an alert that something might be wrong with physiology of the breast. It could be an infection, inflammatory disease, or trauma. Thermography uses no painful breast compression, no radiation and is non-invasive. It is an ideal tool for mass screening not only for women over 40, but younger women as well. In our clinic, we have found breast pathologies in women as young as 18 utilizing thermal imaging equipment. To deny the efficacy of thermal imaging of the breast as an adjunctive diagnostic procedure in the overall management of the patient is a grave error.

The procedure is both comfortable and safe using no radiation or compression.

Breast thermography has been researched for over 30 years, and over 800 peer-reviewed breast thermography studies exist in the index-medicus. In this data base well over 250,000 women have been included as study participants. Some of these studies have followed patients up to 12 years. Breast thermography has an average sensitivity and specificity of 90%.

Studies Have Shown That...

• When thermography is added to a woman's regular breast health checkup, a 61% increase in survival rate has been realized. 
• Finally, when used as part of a multimodal approach (clinical examination + mammography + thermography), 95% of early-stage anomalies will be detected.

Breast thermography is not a stand-alone tool in the screening and diagnosis of breast anomalies. It is adjunctive. We can not ignore the tremendous role of thermography as an early risk indicator or as a monitor of treatment. When a thermogram is positive, a closer look at the patient's diet, exposure to environmental pollution, toxins and lifestyle is in order. Clinical blood work in addition to ultrasound and mammography is essential. When mammography and blood work are negative or equivocal, thermographic monitoring on a quarterly to semi-annual basis should be performed in those patients with suspicious thermograms.

Changes in tumor angiogenesis can be evaluated and other procedures can be ordered to aid in the earliest possible diagnosis. Thermography is non-ionizing and safe and there is no reason to simply "wait and see" any longer. It is at this stage that a major decision must be made. We can no longer be passive but must become proactive with our health. The "wait and see' just because a mammogram is negative or equivocal is no longer acceptable. With a more universal non-political approach, thermal imaging can become a valuable early detection tool that is indispensable in patient's health care. Since it has been determined that 1 in 8 women will get breast anomalies, we must use every means possible to detect anomalies when there is the greatest chance for survival. Proper use of breast self-exams, physician exams, thermography, and mammography together provide the earliest detection system available to date. If treated in the earliest stages, cure rates greater than 95% are possible!

What to expect at your Thermography Breast examination

Your initial appointment will take 30 minutes.

During this time you will complete the breast health questionnaire and a detailed health history.

You will then be taken to a private imaging room where you will be asked to disrobe from the waist up in order to become acclimated to the temperature of the room.

A female technician will be available to answer any questions.

After 15 minutes, the technician will take a series of images including front, lateral, and oblique views. You will then be asked to plunge your hands into cool (10C or 50F) water for 60 seconds. This is known as a functional test - cool water will produce a physiological response that will lead to vasoconstriction of you blood vessels. Normal blood vessels will contract and cool down while blood vessels feeding abnormal cells will not since their metabolic rate is much higher. The technician will then repeat the process of taking the images for a before and after view. The image taking itself only takes a couple of minutes.

Within approximately 7 days, you will return to our office and have the results presented to you in person. You will actually see the images of your breast, learn about any issues, or potential issues you may have, and be given advice on how to improve your health and help prevent breast disease. This follow-up appointment is complementary.