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.

Thermography History

Breast Thermography was introduced in Quebec Canada in 1956 by Dr Robert Lawson who published the first medical paper on breast thermography on 26 women with breast cancer.  His research showed that women with breast cancer had over a 2 degrees delta T when comparing the pathological breast with the opposite side.  In the 1960’s infrared cameras were introduced and the first Barnes Thermograph was patented.  Later 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.’ 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.­

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.

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.

What Else Can Breast Thermography Detect Breast Cancer?

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.

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.

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 Thermologist’ s camera.

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

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.

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.

breast thermography
The heat associated from Angioneogenesis is seen in the right nipple region

Breast Cancer Found with Breast Thermography Testing

This patient was diagnosed with a 2.4 cm tumor behind the right nipple after breast thermography screening.She had been for several mammograms that had missed this.

According the the mammography misses up to 20% of tumors overall, and is ineffective statistically in women with dense breasts. Breast thermography can be used with women with dense breasts and women under 40 years of age.





Importance of Breast Thermography Follow-up

The images at the left were taken July 2013. A 3-month follow-up was recommended. The patient neglected to adhere to the recommendations and the condition significantly worsened over the 5-month period, as can be seen in the image to the right taken in December 2013. There were several factors present that alerted our Board Certified Medical Thermologists that a pathological process may be forming. Thermography exams need to be a routine in annual health screening in all women. One in five mammograms are false negative meaning that 1 in 5 women hold false security that there is no tumor present. Combining thermography with mammography or other forms of screening yield the best results. For those women who elect to forgo mammography due to the radiation, this remains a logical choice for them at a minimum.





A Case Study: Breast Thermography Detects the Metabolism of Breast Cancer 

The image to the left shows a very fast growing tumor. The thermal images show the heat associated with the tumor in July 2012. In only a few months the tumor broke the skins surface and by January showed this thermal impression. Notice the leading edge of the tumor cells are extremely hot, and the tissue cools as the tumor necrosis. Cancer cells can divide fast. Do not rely on any one technology for early detection.  Mammography is limited in the repeat time of testing due to radiation and the lack of success with dense breasts. Thermography can be performed daily and not have any adverse effects, another good reason to develop a system of mass screening that includes thermography.

On an experimental basis thermography is  used to assess the response of breast cancer treatment periodically. Hypothetically if the tumor cools then the tumor metabolism has slowed. This important tool should be added to the toolbox of every breast oncologist. Much more integration of this technology with current standards of care is needed and research must be performed.  There are several oncologists utilizing this analysis combined with their more traditional methods. Our interpreters can work with your oncologist to integrate.




Lifestyle changes can improve overall breast health

Improve Fibrocystic Breasts, Hormone Toxicity, and Breast Health

We are at the cutting edge in technology and have seen some remarkable presentations in the physiology of the body.  We are pioneering areas that have never been seen before.  One of these areas is in the area of toxicity.  We have established a relationship between Hormone Toxicity/ Fibrocystic Breasts and small pockets of inflammation that we describe as “leopard spots”.

More properly these areas are sequestered areas of inflammation due to toxins(irritants) in the form of several possibilities.  Through massive deduction of hundreds of thousands of cases we theorize these points are aberrant and only found in pathological patients. We have established this through clinical experience and intense study of specific habits of our large patient base. For example we notice an absence or minimization of these spots in patients who live a toxin free life and adhere to strict diet and lifestyle.

We need a large study of this nature but understanding that studies of this size only are performed for drug companies we will probably never see one.  The best we can offer at this point is our experience and observations until we can fund such a study.



Dental Thermography and Systemic Disease

Some dentists have long claimed a relationship between oral bacteria and breast cancer, as well as other systemic diseases. The pictures to the left exemplify how the toxic material and bacteria spread through the lymphatic (immune) system and can enter the breast. In this case the back pressure from the inflammation is forcing the fluid in to makeshift channels. This case example is one of many that show the importance of the whole body relationship. Full body thermography can give valuable information not only for the breast but the  whole body through the mapping of skin surface temperatures.  These temperature plots can be used by the doctor to analyze trends in temperature in the body.






History of Breast Thermography

Breast thermography was discovered in 1956 in Montreal, Canada by Dr. Robert Lawson who found temperature differences of more than 2 degrees bilaterally correlated to cases of breast cancer in his patients.  This news rapidly became popular throughout the world.  In the 1960 infrared cameras were patented for the purpose.  Other methods included Liquid Crystal Thermography that used contact devices that measures skin temperature.  In the 1970’s bras made of thermal material were placed on the breast to analyze these temperature difference in a radiology office. 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.

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

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.

Other Potential Uses

Medical thermography can be used as a whole body approach to wellness with the understanding that there is no “normal” asymmetrical heat in the body. Thermal cameras can detect heat on the skin surface that may show underlying pathologies. Thermography is an excellent tool that your doctor can use to assess your health. PACT educates doctors to understand your testing and further implement thermography in to their practice. Be sure to have them consult the Professional Academy of Clinical Thermology for more information and training. You do not need a referral to be tested, our locations can take your appointment directly.

Contemporary Analysis of Breast Thermography, Piana, Sepper

Article published in the Pan American Journal of Medical Thermology (PAJMT)

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Breast cancer is one of the major problems of modern oncology, and has certainly received the most attention. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by 2030 there will be 26.4 million new cases of breast cancer annually worldwide, and 17 million people will die from this terrible disease.
Breast cancer is frequently found in women predominantly between the ages of 32-38 years old who are pregnant or have just given birth. According to statistics, breast cancer occurs 1 in 3000 pregnancy cases. About 3% of all cases are diagnosed during pregnancy, and 25% are seen in women less than 45 years of age. It is these women who currently do not have a method of annual screening, and in turn leave behind young families when they die. Adding a valid method of screening for these mothers will allow for a greater survival rate as well as a decrease in overall healthcare expenses. Early detection of breast cancer implies earlier treatment, therefore saving more lives, which the current system of conventional screening mammography has not achieved.
Earlier diagnosis will aid in decreasing the cost of overall healthcare in several areas. First, the number of full radical mastectomies will be reduced and more lumpectomies will be performed. This will cut down on the cost of not only the hospitalization stay, but the time of disability. There would be less reconstructive procedures required as breast integrity can be maintained. Finally, the need for costly chemotherapy could be lessened in the absence of lymph node involvement.