Frequently Asked Questions

Breast Thermography

What is Breast Thermography?

Modern Breast Thermography testing is a screening procedure that uses infrared technology (heat sensing) to screen for cancer and fibrocystic breast disease, and breast health. Infrared technology is used in most aspects of modern science including weather, space programs, military, espionage, and other applications.

In breast thermography we are looking for heat patterns in the breast that may indicate pathology. Tumor growth is a physiological process that creates increased vascular patterns that can be detected on a modern infrared camera. Thermography can establish overall breast health and is an excellent test for assessing fibrocystic breasts and response to treatment. Combining imaging resources is recommended.

Factors Affecting the Results of Breast Thermography

Not all tests are perfect or 100 percent accurate. It is important to combine testing for optimal outcome. The following will limit successful outcome measurements to a point”

  • Patient’s age
  • Ability to stay still in the proper positions
  • Excessive use of bras
  • Seat warmers, over exercising, caffeine use
  • Medications usages including hormone pills and birth control
  • Obesity
  • Extra large breasts
  • Implants

The Promise of Breast Thermography

Thermology has become a valued and recognized tool in the scientific community. It is used in many disciplines of science and is growing as a viable choice for imaging the physiology of the human body. Thermography should be used by medical personnel in the fight against breast cancer and the promotion of breast health.

What Else Can Breast Thermography Detect?

Breast thermography can also pick up inflammation associated with developing tumors and inflammatory forms of breast cancer. Some authorities has postulated that nitric oxide is emitted from the developing cancer and can be picked up as a GLOW on thermal imaging.

It is also possible to see other abnormal vascular and lymphatic patterns in inverse grayscale imaging.

Young Woman at Risk and Dense Breasts

A very important area of consideration is the neglected category of women under the age of 40, as well as women with dense breasts who are unable to be screened with mammography and the current standard of care. A push is currently underway to use thermography as a method to cover this gap. Testimony has been heard in public hearings in CT to use thermography for these women. We need public support and funding to insure women are not left out in the fight against breast cancer. There are over 20,000 case of breast cancer in the age group of women from 20-40 each year in the USA. When cancer occurs in a younger woman it is usually a much more aggressive form, and less likely to respond to treatment. There is currently no routine screening test for women under 40. We propose that thermography may fill this void and should be investigated as a viable test for these women.

Full Body Thermography

What Makes Thermography Unique?

Thermography or Digital Infrared Imaging (DITI) helps in detecting heat produced by an increased level of blood vessel circulation (angioneogenesis) and metabolic changes linked with the genesis of a tumor. Benefits to Thermography include:

  • Breast Thermography is safe and comfortable.
  • No Radiation
  • No Contact
  • No Compression
  • Easy to establish a baseline
  • Able to use for women with dense breasts and implants
  • Well Researched for more than 30 years (more than 800 peer-reviewed studies)
  • It helps to identify around 95% of the early stage of cancer in a multi-modal approach

Types of Cameras Used in Thermography

Cameras used in the industry vary considerably. The higher the resolution the better to a point (approx. 640×480). It is important to make sure the Thermologist is using FDA Cleared systems.

Medical Thermal Cameras produce high-resolution, ultra-sensitive infrared images that can be translated in to heat measurements. Many changes in technology have occurred in the past 10 years. Always ask the age of the thermology technician's camera.

What is Angioneogenesis?

Angioneogenesis is the formation of new blood vessel that supply nutrients to a tumor and make it a living part of the body. This asymmetric increase in blood flow creates an increase in temperature that can be picked up by medical thermal cameras. Many times this blood supply increases over time as a tumor grows.

How Does Thermography Work?

Breast Thermography locates physiologically active tissue that may be hot due to angioneogenesis, the development of new blood vessels that feed tumors; or inflammation associated with the tumor process.

Cancer metabolism usually produces more heat compared to normal adjacent tissue and can be monitored for baseline comparison. Breast thermography proportionally detects the rise in skin temperature and the possible growth of cancer cells.

History of Thermography

Breast Thermography was discovered in Montreal, Canada in 1956 by Dr. Robert Lawson. Dr. Lawson published the first medical paper on breast thermography. Dr. Robert Lawson’s research found temperature differences of more than 2 degrees bilaterally correlated to cases of breast cancer in his patients.

1960’s: This news rapidly became popular throughout the world. In the 1960 infrared cameras were patented for this purpose and the first Barnes Thermograph was patented.

1970’s: In the 1970’s bras made of thermal material were placed on the breast to analyze these temperature difference in a radiology office. These liquid crystal bras and plates were used as a more affordable method of screening.

In 1972, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare declared that Breast Thermography was ‘Beyond Experimental.’ For more information.

1980’s: Thermography was FDA cleared as an adjunctive screening procedure for breast cancer in 1982.

Recent advancements in technology have allowed us to perform even more accurate exams. Studies have been performed on thermography when compared against other forms of testing. A 2008 study published in the American Journal of Surgery, performed at New York Presbyterian Hospital Cornell showed a 97% sensitivity in discriminating cancer compared to biopsy. These results showed thermography to accurately identify 97% (58 of 60) of cancers when compared to mammography. Obesity and large breasts were a limiting factor.

Over 4000 articles were published on thermography and over 800 focused on breast thermography. All major medical institutions implemented the technology in the USA. Other countries adopted the use as well.­

Dr. Piana and Sepper have published an article in the pan American Journal of Thermology called, Contemporary Evaluation of Thermal Breast Screening, that brings light to the history and current acceptance.

For More History on Thermography

Is Thermography FDA Approved?

Breast Thermography Testing and The FDA The Food and Drug Administration has cleared thermography for several purposes as an adjunctive screening. One of these is breast cancer screening. It is important to understand that breast thermography is not a stand alone procedure for breast cancer screening. BTI’s Stance: We make it clear in all of our testing that the FDA stance on breast thermography is a valid one and has been adopted by Breast Thermography International and the Professional Academy of Clinical Thermology. The more information in the quest for the early detection of breast cancer that we have the more lives will be saved. The November 2012 article in the New England Journal of Medicine brought this fact to light. Mammograms have failed to reduce fatalities in cancer across a population base as a sole method of screening. We hope the medical community will analyze this data and provide a multi modal approach to breast cancer screening. We would like to see research in the area of combining non radiation tests (MRI, Ultrasound, Thermography). It would be simple to incorporate breast thermography in to the current screening regiments. None of the case studies within this site should lead any patient to choose breast thermography as the sole method for screening.

What is Medical Thermography?

Medical Thermography is a whole body analysis for assessing skin surface temperatures that can be correlated by a physician to assess for abnormal physiology. Uses for thermography are similar to that of an oral thermometer, a stethoscope, or any other medical test that assesses patient function. Infrared cameras measure radiation in the infrared electromagnetic emission that the human body emits. The sensors on the thermal camera read varying degrees of infrared emittance and through proper calibration translates it in to a temperature reading. The information is then plotted in a digital format in color palette. The most commonly palette is the rainbow (ROYGBIV) that shows hot measurements as red and white and cold as magenta and black. These patterns are then analyzed and physiological assessments are made. There are several type of medical devices used by the medical thermologist. These include contact sensors, infrared cameras, and point analysis systems. The most technical and advanced system is the infrared thermal camera and is the choice technology of Breast Thermography International and the Professional Academy of Clinical Thermology.

My Appointment/Report

Breast Thermography Process

This non-invasive physical test known as Thermography lasts for around 15 minutes. Unlike like mammography exams, it doesn’t lay any sort of stress on the breast. It uses digital infrared imaging to discover any symmetrical changes in the breast. Women with implants or those with a mastectomy fall outside of the “routine” analysis, but are able to be tested with some adaptations in evaluation procedures.

Testing is performed in the physician’s or technician’s office. The patient will be asked to fill out a breast history form. The examination may be in a privacy setup behind a curtain. The patient will be left for 10-15 minutes to let their body reach equilibrium with the room’s temperature. After 15 minutes the patient will be positioned in front of the camera (thermography system) to image the upper chest, underarms, and the breasts.

These images are captured in real time from the infrared imaging camera then stored. All images are stored for comparison of future images so that a baseline can be achieved. The images provide a clear view to vascular patterns, temperature differentials, and possible pathological conditions.

Once the images are captured they will be interpreted by a PACT Certified Clinical Thermologist., who will process and grade the images digitally. After analyzing the images, they are graded using a PACT standardized reading protocol.

Who Interprets Medical Thermography Images?

Board Certified Physicians interpret thermography images. Breast Thermography International relies on the advanced training and certification through the Professional Academy of Clinical Thermology. Our thermography interpreters have over 40 years of experience in medical thermography. Every image is analyzed by three levels of interpreters with varying degrees of expertise.

How Do I Receive My Results?

A complete assessment of your skin surface temperature measurements will be compiled in a multi-page report after our medical thermology team has completed their in-depth work. Reports will be issued in a digital format so you may enjoy the high resolution images on your favorite digital device. You will see various measurements and comments based on your findings that will need to be investigated by a physician. Medical Thermology reports are easy to understand by your doctor as their training in physiology and anatomy is extensive. If they need help understanding our team of doctors are always willing to lend a hand. A baseline study is usually needed so that future comparisons can be analyzed.

Where can I find a Certified Thermography Lab Center?

Breast Thermography International has many labs throughout the USA and other parts of the world. These thermography centers are operated by Certified Thermographic Technicians that have had intensive medical thermography training. All technicians are required to use PACT Board Certified Interpreters. All patients records are held by our central organization and you will be able to choose to go to any of our locations seamlessly. Click here to find a lab near you!