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              During your appointment a thermology technician will review your breast-related medical history, thoroughly explain the screening process, and guide you through each step performing the scan. The entire process will take approximately 30 minutes.

Step One:  Disrobed from the waist up you sit behind a screen for 15 minutes for an acclimation period, during which time we will review your breast-related medical history.            

Step Two:   Three images will be taken.            

Step Three: Your hands will be submerged in cool water for one minute. This VITAL STEP referred to as the Autonomic Challenge or cold-water stress test sets Therma-Scan apart from all other interpretation companies (see below).

Step Four:   Three final images are taken.


Autonomic-Functional Challenge (cold-stress test)

The Autonomic Challenge (cold-water stress test)*, considered a functional test or physiological test, is vital for an accurate and specialized scan. Inaccurately, some companies advertise this test was discontinued in the 1980s. WRONG. Therma-Scan Reference Laboratory, the interpretation part of Therma-Scan, has consistently performed this test for over 50 years. As early as the 1980s other interpretation companies were formed dedicating to teaching seminars and selling equipment in addition to interpreting scans. The additional expertise and training for interpretation of the cold-water stress test was no longer available to everyone, thus their results were inconsistent. Therma-Scan is dedicated to the highest quality scans using radiometric cameras and a specialized lens above industry standards, and to offer the additional 6-12 months of training necessary to interpret this valuable test.


In the breast tissue the vascular structure (blood vessels) are close to the surface. This test challenges the blood vessels to contract. Healthy vessels will contract for a period of time after you submerge your hands in cold water. Unhealthy vessels (those at their earliest stages of development or that grow to "feed" a disease) do not contract. In addition, when there is a developing cancer there is evidence of nitric oxide which causes blood vessels to expand, thereby "feeding the disease". Both of these mechanisms of a disease process require the unparalleled expertise of the Therma-Scan- trained thermologists with a second reading by Dr. Philip Hoekstra for all breast scans. Dr. Hoekstra is our Science Clinic Director and has personally read over a million scans. You can read more about this "functional" process on our Why Thermography page and the FAQs, and how other breast tests are structured to find later stage breast changes which are structural changes. Why thermography: a change in the physiology (function) is always preceded by any structure changes. And for a more detailed, scientific explanation of the cold-water stress test scroll down to view a reprint with permission of Therma-Scan Reference Laboratory from their website.


When you make your appointment, we send a message to your personal email with a link to our laboratory’s on-line, secure patient history (or mail you the paperwork at your request). Since Therma-Scan thermology is an in-depth evaluation of the levels, patterns and behavior of the skin's temperature to achieve a meaningful evaluation, you should avoid conditions that would cause adverse influences.  Thus, we will also send you a link to our "Preparation Instructions" which explains what conditions to avoid prior to your scheduled appointment. 


A copy of your report is emailed to you and send to your physician (MD or DO or PA) of choice. Why? We want to ensure were a medical test such as ultrasound, MRI or even a mammogram necessary for follow-up, you are protected in having your physician aware of your results. Our scans go through a rigorous interpretation process and can take 5-10 business days. Please note during Breast Cancer Awareness Month our network of doctors across the country often advertising their office as having thermography, some only doing scans in October & November. Therefore, at those times it can take 3-4 weeks to receive results, although a STAT (rush) can be ordered. We highly recommend planning your scan before the second week in October of each year.



In its earliest stages of development, diagnostic infrared images for breast cancer were evaluated, much like medical X-rays, by an empirical comparison of the shapes of thermal patterns with those of established disease (pattern recognition). Subsequently, important basic scientific discoveries have provided additional and more powerful means of evaluating breast thermograms for the detection of breast cancer.


The most important means by which the human body regulates its core temperature involves a mechanism of the autonomic nervous system that modulates the flow of blood to the skin. Specific metabolic abnormalities of cancer induce great increases in the production of a powerful dilator of blood vessels called nitric oxide. Other metabolites specific to cancer stimulate the development of a specific type of abnormal blood vessels (neo-angiogenic) to feed the growth of a solid cancer beyond a very small stage. These two factors cause excessive flow (hyperemia) of core body-temperature blood channeled to the cancer and produce the “Hot Spots” detected by thermal imaging, even the very smallest cancers; even pre-cancer.


The most powerful means of characterizing breast cancer’s excessive flow of core body-temperature blood is to perform an adaptive functional challenge as part of a quantitative thermal imaging procedure. A brief and controlled chill experience will challenge the adaptive mechanism of the autonomic nervous system and permits the distinction of uncontrolled blood flow that can differentiate the “Hot Spots” of breast cancer from normal breast tissue.


The best developed means of an adaptive functional challenge to indicate breast cancer by quantitative thermal imaging is a one-minute immersion of the hands into cool water between two sets of images. This “cold water challenge” has been demonstrated as a powerful component of the quantitative and objective analysis performed by our expert and Board-Certified thermologists at Therma-Scan Reference Laboratory (the interpretation company) along with pattern recognition, measured temperature differentials and time-based evolution. Anything less is to ignore important scientific discoveries and risk an inadequate evaluation. 



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Ducharme, M.B., Tikaisis P. In vivo conductivity of the human forearm tissues. J Apply Physiol 1991;70:2682-2690.

Ducharme, M.B., VanHelder W.P., Radomski M.W. Tissue temperature profile in the human forearm during thermal stress at thermal stability. J Apply Physiol 1991;71:1973-1978.

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Hoekstra P.P. The autonomic challenge and breast thermology. Thermology International 2004(14);3,106.

Houdas Y., Ring E.F.J. (1982) Heat loss and conservation, Ch 7, p1988 in HUMAN TEMPERATURE: ITS MEASUREMENT AND REGULATION, Plenum Press, New York.

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Rhodin J.A.G. (1981) Anatomy of microcirculation, in MICROCIRCULATION: CURRENT PHYSIOLOGY, MEDICAL AND SURGICAL CONCEPTS, Effros R.M. et al. (Eds.), Academic Press, New York, pp. 11-17.


Schwartz J.H., Kandel E.R. (1991) Synaptic transmission mediated by second messengers, Ch. 12 in PRINCIPLES OF NEURAL SCIENCE, 3rd Ed. Schwartz J.H., Kandel E.R. and Jessell T.M. (Eds.) Elsevier, New York.

Searle N.R. and Sahab P. Endothelial vasomotor regulation in health and disease. Can J Anaesth 1992;39:838-857.

Printed permission Therma-Scan Reference Laboratory

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