Thermography is considered an adjunctive procedure and a vital part of any comprehensive breast program, although some women use Thermography solely.
Thermography is a true screening procedure looking at functional changes. It is non-invasive. It often can reveal the earliest changes in the breast tissue (5-8 years earlier).
It differs from mammography which is looking for structural, later in life, changes. Many are unaware that only a biopsy can diagnose breast cancer. Testing to rule out or to determine whether a biopsy should be performed has commonly/traditionally been the role of a mammography. More recent studies are advocating more and more less invasive forms of testing due to being noninvasive and more accurate.
For instance even within the standard of care medical model they are discovering ultrasounds can in many cases be more effective than mammograms, as they can be upwards of 95.7% effective at detecting malignant cancer cells vs. the 75-85% effectiveness of mammograms. In a New Zealand study published in the American Journal of Surgery (2004) they found that ultrasound is "significantly better than mammography for detecting invasive breast cancer".
Unfortunately less invasive testing is not considered standard of care and thus is not paid for by insurance companies unless a mammogram is performed initially. And our most recent experience has been most facilities will not do an ultrasound without first doing a mammogram.
How does this differ from thermography which many are referring to as "natural mammography" (although this is a misnomer and in our opinion is irresponsible)? Every medical test has a purpose and "specialty" in determining the risk factor for breast cancer or other breast related conditions. Thermography is a functional test not a structural test as is the case with mammography, diagnostic mammography or ultrasound and MRIs. This is why it can accurately determine risk factor to a high percentage years before more invasive breast cancer cells may be found with other means of testing. Please read our Why Thermography page to learn more.
What Makes Us Unique?
We at Therma-Scan also add a vital step to our process. It is called the cold-stress test. It is actually an autonomic challenge to the body. We do a set of before and after pictures. In between we immerse your hands in cool water (ok, it is actually cold). The temperatures are very precise and the timing must be precise.
Because there is a difference in how blood vessels, which are close to the surface in the breast tissue, react to the cold, this functional challenge is very revealing. Healthy blood vessels contract. Blood vessels which develop later in life to bring nutrients to a diseased area or the earliest stages of a cancer do not have a muscle lining and do not contract. We look at the difference in this "attenuation" to determine whether the first functional change we can possible discover shows up as a result of this test. This is why Therma-Scan is a leader in the industry as they were an innovative in how to use and interpret this functional challenge.