Thermography for breast cancer screening

Normal — Good thermal symmetry with no suspicious thermal findings.

by Dr. Martha Grout — 

One of our standard cultural mantras is that women should have an annual mammogram to screen for breast cancer. Yet mammography centers around the country are shutting down. A study published in the August 2007 issue of Radiology blames low reimbursement rates from insurance companies and high liability for the radiologists.

Truth is, mammograms were never a great screening tool. The reason the liability rate was so high was that it is difficult for mammography to see through dense breast tissue; as a result, it provides too many false positives. False negative reading rates (failing to detect cancers) range between 10 and 40 percent.

Cancer cells are typically in the body 10 to 20 years before the mass grows large enough to be noticed. State-of-the-art thermography technology can detect cancerous tissue about 10 years earlier than mammography can.

Thermography measures the skin’s autonomic response to inflammation — its “heat signature.” Chemical and blood-vessel activity in the area surrounding a developing breast cancer is almost always higher than in the normal breast. Cancer cells need an abundant supply of nutrients to maintain their growth, which can increase the surface temperatures of the breast.

Fibrocystic — Significant vascular activity in left breast which was clinically correlated with fibrocystic changes.

Thermography converts infrared radiation emitted from the skin’s surface into electrical impulses that are visualized in color. The spectrum of colors indicates an increase or decrease in the amount of infrared radiation being emitted from the body surface.

Best of all, with thermography, there is no painful compression or dangerous radiation exposure year after year.

According to Dr. Samuel S. Epstein, author of The Politics of Cancer, “The American Cancer Society, together with the American College of Radiologists, has insisted on pursuing large-scale mammography screening programs for breast cancer, including its use in younger women, even though the NCI (National Cancer Institute) and other experts are now agreed that these are likely to cause more cancers than could possibly be detected.”

John W. Gofman, M.D., Ph.D., an authority on the health effects of ionizing radiation, spent 30 years studying the effects of low-dose radiation on humans. He estimates that 75 percent of breast cancer could be prevented by avoiding or minimizing exposure to the ionizing radiation from mammography, X-rays and other medical sources.

Ductal Carcinoma — The vascular asymmetry in the upper left breast was suspicious and clinical investigation indicated a palpable mass.

So why is thermography not more widely practiced? It fell out of favor in the early years of its use because the technology was crude, the images had to be processed by hand and it was thought to provide too many false positives.

Recent advances in technology have brought thermography to the point where it is now used as one of the diagnostic tools in two cancer research centers in North America. It is extremely useful for detecting tumors whose primary manifestation is the development of increased blood supply (angiogenesis), since the heat signature is readily detected up by the thermography equipment.

Any effective tool which does not traumatize the breast or deliver ionizing (mutating) radiation is far preferable as a screening tool to one which causes damage while it is screening.

Thermography, like other tests for breast cancer, is a screening tool that can help raise suspicions of breast cancer at an early stage, when there is still chance of complete cure.

Ductal Carcinoma — The vascular asymmetry in the upper left breast was suspicious and clinical investigation indicated a palpable mass.


Martha Grout, M.D., M.D.(H) serves on the Arizona Board of Homeopathic Medical Examiners. She spent two decades in emergency medicine and a decade in homeopathic medicine. and practices in Scottsdale, Ariz. 480-240-2600.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 26, Number 6, December 2007/January 2008.

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