“Saving women’s lives through early breast cancer detection”
Is breast thermography safe?
Yes, it is FDA approved in the United States as an adjunct to mammography and has been used in Canada and Europe for over twenty years. Thermography is a non-invasive test. This means that nothing is sent into your body. It simply is creating an image of your breasts by measuring the heat your body emits. There is no contact of any kind, nor is there any pain or radiation.
Can thermography diagnose breast cancer?
No. Thermography, like mammography, is a screening tool. Thermography identifies abnormal physiological changes in your breasts that may be cancerous. Mammography, a type of x-ray, identifies certain structures in the breast that can potentially be cancer. With both mammography and thermography, definitive diagnosis is done by other procedures, such as a biopsy or lumpectomy. Many of our patients come in after an abnormal “let’s watch this area” mammography, and correlate the area to be watched with a thermographic image of the same area. If the thermography shows an issue in the same area, the patient will have more information with which to make an informed decision.
Is breast thermography covered by my health insurance?
Unfortunately, many health insurance plans do not cover the cost of thermography. Check with your HSA/FSA provider to see if thermography is covered as a tax deductible expense.
Depending on your employer, some benefit programs may cover a portion of the cost. Call your provider, and ask if they cover thermography. If the answer is NO, ask if IMAGING is covered in the OTHER category (i.e., X-rays from a chiropractor, or blood work that you pay for out-of-pocket first).
Have any studies been done regarding the accuracy of thermography?
Yes, hundreds of studies have been written up in medical journals. For further information, please go to this page (http://www.iact-org.org/articles/articles-review-btherm.html).
Do I need a referral from my family physician?
No. A referral is not necessary.
How long does it take?
The scan, including the time to acclimate to the room, will take 30 to 40 minutes. The follow-up consultation at a later date will take about 20 minutes.
How often will I need a rescan?
This depends on the results of your initial scan. With no unusual changes noted and depending on your age, we will recommend rescanning annually or every 2 years. If your scan shows changes, depending on the level of risk, you will be asked to have a rescan sooner.
I have breast implants – is thermography safe?
Yes. Breast implants do not interfere with thermography. Breast thermography is painless and safe, using no radiation or compression. It can be used effectively and safely for all women, including pregnant or nursing women, women with dense breast tissue, and women with breast implants.
Why do we plunge our hands into cold water during the scan?
You will be asked to plunge your hands into cool (50F or 10C) water for 60 seconds after your baseline images have been taken. This stress test is known as “the Cold Challenge” is a functional test. The shock of the cold water will lead to constriction of your blood vessels, which is a normal physiological response. Normal blood vessels will constrict and cool down; blood vessels feeding abnormal cells will not.
Another set of images will be taken for comparison and analysis to your baseline. Areas of the breast that do not cool down normally or respond correctly to this basic test of physiology will be considered suspicious and should be evaluated further.
Several physiological factors that may interfere with this normal cool down; one of them is a cancerous tumor that takes much longer to cool down compared to the surrounding health tissue, due to its active state of metabolism.
If the cold challenge test is done correctly it will yield consistent results. Some imaging centers do not do this, we feel, to the detriment of their patients. To dispense with a test of physiology, for whatever reason, is a mistake.
Does thermography replace mammography?
No. We recommend that thermography be used together with mammography for the most comprehensive screening and the earliest possible detection.
Can thermography replace colonoscopy?
No. Although, thermography might show signs of colon cancer, it would not be the earliest detector. Colonoscopy can detect pre-cancerous polyps, which are growths that have no associated function.