Thermography (Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging) is based on detecting the heat produced by increased blood vessel circulation and metabolic changes associated with a tumor genesis and growth known as angioneogenesis. Angiogenesis is very metabolically active process and consequently creates a minute amount of heat. Thermography or infrared imaging can detect these very small increments of temperature. Thermography “sees” or detects angiogenesis.
Infrared thermography has been in use in medical diagnostics since the 1960s, and in 1982 was approved by the US FDA as an adjunctive tool for the diagnosis of breast cancer. Its applicability, however, was limited by the temperature resolution capability of earlier imaging technology, the bulky infra red equipment necessary to perform procedures, and the lack of computer analytical tools. In the past 30 years there have been numerous studies that have demonstrated thermography to have the ability to detect breast abnormalities that other screening methods may not have identified. Recent studies suggest that an abnormal thermal sign, in the light of our present knowledge of breast cancer, is ten times as important an indication as is family history data. According to the two most recent clinical studies, the sensitivity of digital infrared thermal imaging (breast thermography) for detecting breast cancer ranges from 97% to 99%.
It is a contact free, pain-free, RADIATION-FREE, low cost valuable adjunctive screening tool for breast cancer. While mammography, ultrasound, MRI, and other structural imaging tools rely primarily on finding the physical tumor. Thermography is based on detecting the heat produced by increased blood vessel circulation and metabolic changes associated with a tumor genesis and growth.
Any female above 25 years of age can undergo breast thermography.
The examination is performed in a cool and dark room with patient sitting disrobed up to waist in front of an infra-red camera. The software produces a color-coded, processed image of the breasts showing suspicious foci, where each point denotes specific temperature and assigned specific color coding. The greatest difference in temperature when compared with surrounding tissue is calculated separately for each breast.
It takes around 10 minutes to perform each test.
Those individuals, who have an abnormal thermogram, need to consult doctor and undergo further evaluation by tests like mammogram/USG or MRI breasts and be in regular follow-up.