What’s the story with Thermography?

Although thermograms are entirely safe with no contrast or radiation of any sort, they are worthless as an early predictor of breast cancer. A study at Dartmouth around 1980 showed identification of some relatively large cancers with thermography. The principle of thermography is based on minute changes of the skin temperature by an underlying breast cancer generating heat because of the high metabolism of the tumor. In order to be detected by thermography the cancers usually have to be at least two cm (⅔ of an inch), unless they are very close to the skin. In the past 35 years this technology has been surpassed by other imaging.

Because the procedure is safe and since it was in use by 1975 it was grand-fathered in as an allowed medical procedure by the FDA. Consequently, there are no state or federal requirements or guidelines for conducting or interpreting this test.

In the Dartmouth study the woman had to sit in a cool room for ½ hour, nude from the waist up to allow the breast skin temperature equilibrate, before taking the infrared photos. Anyone not performing the test in this manner is basing their results on zero supporting data.

There have been no peer reviewed, multi-institutional studies of this technique. The only supporting evidence has been trial-by-internet.

There are statements on the internet that cancers can be found 10 years before it presents as a mass. If women wait long enough after a thermogram they will have a one in 16 chance of developing a breast cancer in the predicted breast. One in 16 will have cancer eventually in the other breast, because all women have a one in eight chance of eventually getting breast cancer (two chances in 16, one for the predicted side and one for the other breast).

Another statement that can found is that thermography can find one cell of breast cancer. A billion breast cancer cells fit in 1/5 of a teaspoon, and thermography is going to find one cell by the heat it produces. Not likely.  Perhaps, if there was a very tiny nuclear reactor in it.

The shame of this is that not only does thermography miss small cancers, but it often misses large cancers that are physically evident.  Women may not want to admit to themselves that they have breast cancer especially if they are living a “clean” lifestyle by eating properly, trying to avoid stress and sleep right.  They may see their cancer as evidence of personal failure in their practices, and may deny the obvious beyond reason especially in the face of a normal thermogram. I, personally, have seen three instances of large cancers practically filling the affected breast with a normal thermogram and in denial for a number of years.

Although healthy living does significantly reduce the incidence of cancer, it is not a bulletproof solution.

Print Friendly

Submit a Comment