Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death for women and the diagnosis and testing have led to false results. Testing has changed with the addition of ultrasounds and thermographic imaging added to mammograms and MRI testing. This infrared digital imaging can help provide more accurate results before a biopsy is done or for women predisposed with a higher risk of breast cancer.
Thermography Imaging Beginning
Thermography began in 1956 but then discarded due to images that were not satisfactory. The tool has since been improved and studies conducted to prove its effectiveness as a tool for non-invasive early detection of breast cancer. The use of mammograms and biopsies are invasive, while some tools expose the woman to radiation. Infrared digital imaging is not invasive and produces no radiation, which makes it a tool that can be used often without exposure for the patient. The infrared cameras were registered with the FDA for medical use in 1982. Today it is being used more often in combination with mammograms, MRI, and ultrasounds to provide early detection of breast cancer.
What is Thermography?
This is a tool used to detect breast cancer and other breast issues that are high-tech using thermal imaging referred to as infrared digital imaging. This technology is used to create thermogram images or heat images that show breast skin temperature and changes in cells. This is done by the thermographic camera detecting radiation the body naturally emits that will increase with temperature elevation. Since this testing is safe it can be done twice with a several month interval to create a study of changes in the patient. The testing is able to detect abnormal cells earlier that are reliable results without the possible false negatives of some early tests.
General Thermography Facts
- Thermography is safe and non-invasive without radiation and can be a useful tool between other types of testing. The FDA deems the infrared testing safe.
- The testing can detect heat patterns pinpointing cell abnormalities and fast growing tumors.
- The infrared imaging is able to do this by detecting temperature variations caused by blood flow. In breast cancer, the cells are multiplying and cell changes that cause blood flow to be higher in areas near the tumor location.
- The American Cancer Society and FDA warn thermography is not a replacement for mammograms, but a tool combined with the traditional methods of breast cancer testing to aid in early detection.
Other Uses of Thermography
The infrared digital imaging can be used by physicians for other areas of the body when necessary for early detection of cancer and other diseases. This imaging can detect fibrocystic conditions, cardiovascular disease, infections and even allergies. But these cameras have been used for non-medical reasons to perform in important areas including at airports to detect illnesses of people traveling or coming into the country. It has been used by the military for surveillance practices. Firefighters have taken advantage of the infrared imaging to detect people that may be trapped in fires.