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THERMOGRAHPY VS. MAMMOGRAM2018-07-20T21:17:55+00:00

Thermography vs. Mammography & Ultrasound

Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging or Thermography is often “compared” to other modalities such as Mammography. The fact is, Thermography cannot be compared to Mammography because they are looking at two completely different things in the body. Thermography looks at the physiological parts of the body (function or activity) and Mammography looks at the anatomical parts of the body (skeletal or structure). Here’s a comparison chart to further explain:

THERMOGRAPHY

Uses infrared sensors to detect heat and increased vascularity (angiogenesis) as the byproduct of biochemical reactions. The heat is compiled into an image for computerized analysis.

ULTRASOUND

High frequency sound waves are bounced off the breast tissue and collected as an echo to produce an image.

MAMMOGRAPHY

Passes radiation through the breast to produce an image. Suspicious areas need to be dense enough to be seen.

No radiation, non-invasive, harmless.

No radiation, non-invasive, harmless.

RADIATION USED.

Can be used as often as indicated to trace a problem, observe the effectiveness of treatment, or monitor the health of the breast over time.

High frequency sound waves are bounced off the breast tissue and collected as an echo to produce an image.

Very limited use due to radiation exposure and pain concerns​.

Functional imaging. Detects physiological changes. Cannot pinpoint the exact area of suspicion inside the breast.

Structural imaging. Ability to locate the area of suspicious tissue.

Structural imaging. Ability to locate the area of suspicious tissue.

Non-contact. Nothing touches the breasts.

Uses mild sound head contact.

Compresses the breast.

Earliest method of breast cancer detection known.

Not a screening procedure. Used to investigate an area already detected by mammography, thermography, or physical examination. Low spatial resolution (cannot see fine detail). Good at distinguishing solid masses from fluid filled cysts.

Can detect cancer earlier than physical examination.

Findings increase suspicion. Cannot diagnose cancer.

Findings increase suspicion. Cannot diagnose cancer.

Findings increase suspicion. Cannot diagnose cancer.

Can detect a pathologic state of the breast up to 10 years before a cancerous tumor is found by any other method.

Ability to detect some cancers missed by mammography.

Can detect tumors in the pre-invasive stage in mainly slow-growing cancers.

Has the ability to detect fast growing aggressive tumors. In 7 out of 10 women, thermography will be the first alarm that something is happening. A positive infrared image represents the highest known risk factor for the existence of or future development of breast cancer – 10 times more significant than any family history of the disease.

Ability to detect some cancers not detected by mammography.

Cannot detect exponentially fast-growing tumors in the pre-invasive stage.

Average 90% sensitivity (10% of cancers missed) in all age groups.  Of these missed cancers, the vast majority are slow growing and poorly invasive. Of the type of cancers to miss, this is highly preferable. This makes thermography highly valuable as a prognostic indicator.

Average 83% sensitivity (17% of cancers missed) in all age groups.

Average 80% sensitivity (20% of cancers missed), in women over age 50. Sensitivity drops to 60% (40% of cancers missed) in women under age 50.

Average 90% Specificity (10% false-positives). Due to thermography’s ability to act as the earliest warning signal, further studies are needed to follow patients over a prolonged time period.

Average 66% Specificity (34% false -positives).

Average 75% Specificity (25% false -positives). 85% of all mammography initiated biopsies are negative.

Hormone use – no effect.

No known effect.

Hormone use decreases sensitivity.

Average 90% Specificity (10% false-positives). Due to thermography’s ability to act as the earliest warning signal, further studies are needed to follow patients over a prolonged time period.

Average 66% Specificity (34% false -positives).

Average 75% Specificity (25% false -positives). 85% of all mammography initiated biopsies are negative.

Large, dense, and fibrocystic breasts  – no effect.

Large, dense, and fibrocystic breasts – no known effect.

Large, dense, and fibrocystic breasts cause reading difficulties.

All areas visualized. Due to the nature of infrared imaging, pre-cancerous and cancerous tumors as deep as the chest wall can be detected.

All areas visualized.

In most women, the medial upper triangle, peripheral areas next to the chest wall, and the inframammary sulcus cannot be visualized.

Sources:

Index Medicus – ACS, NEJM, JNCI, J Breast, J Radiology, J Clin Ultrasound

Index Medicus – Cancer, AJOG, Thermology

Text – Atlas of Mammography: New Early Signs in Breast Cancer

Text – Biomedical Thermology