Frequently Asked Questions
Breast Thermography & Your Breast Screening Options
Your Breast Screening Options in Los Angeles
To understand the advantages that breast thermography provides and how it differs and supplements other testing methods keep reading. Below we discuss popular means for breast screenings and how they can be beneficial and what their intended purpose truly is.
Mammography is a test of the anatomy and is the most widely used and accepted breast test in the medical profession. A mammogram uses radiation and compression to take an x-ray of the breast and can catch cancerous lumps sooner than a manual exam. Mammography can be quite effective for older women with less dense breasts. However, only a biopsy is an effective means for detecting cancer. A 2-D and 3-D mammogram have the twice the radiation of a regular mammogram and does not replace a regular mammography breast screening.
An ultrasound uses sound waves to create an image of a breast’s anatomy or structure. Unlike the mammogram, an ultrasound does not use compression or radiation. Usually, a breast ultrasound is used if there is a specific area of suspicion or concern, but there are some states that are instructing women with more dense breasts to get an ultrasound in addition to a regular mammogram.
A CT scan is also a breast screening that looks at the anatomy of a breast. However, this type of screening is usually used for bone injuries, lung and chest imaging, as well as cancer detection. A CT scan utilizes twice the radiation as a mammogram.
MRI Breast Scan
An MRI does not use radiation or compression and is usually more expensive than other screening methods. This kind of test is not usually readily available and is a test of the anatomy which is able to analyze the state of soft tissue.
Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging (DITI)
Modern medical thermography is a means to view the physiology or the functioning of the body or a specific part of the body through the use of an infrared camera. A breast thermography scan uses no compression and the images attained are interpreted using special computer software. Medical thermography allows changes on the cellular level, infection, and inflammation to be easily seen and can pinpoint the area of the body from which a patient’s pain originates.
Computerized Regulation Thermography (CRT)
CRT is not the same as DITI as it is limited to viewing breast contact points. CRT reveals imbalances in the body.
Should I Develop a Breast Baseline?
Yes. Each person’s breast tissue has its own thermal fingerprint. However, to truly identify your thermal fingerprint and to accurately ascertain severe changes in your breast tissue, you must return for another breast thermography screening three months after your initial screening. Once this baseline is established then all other annual breast screenings can be compared to this baseline.
Though some do not require this second screening, we at Advance Medical Thermography in Los Angeles do, because that is when the most changes are seen. Having a baseline allows you to have a clear picture of what your true thermal fingerprint looks like.
The Purpose of Screenings
Breast thermography screenings are helpful for helping women have the opportunity to take proactive steps toward bettering their health. If, however, after the initial screening we find a questionable abnormality, we will advise you to seek more clinical correlation.
Though screenings can be helpful for diagnosis of a disease, they can offer us so much more. A screening can show that there is a problem that could arise and can give the patient the opportunity to take proactive steps—such as lifestyle changes—to eradicate the possibility of a problem to take hold. For example, if a doctor sees that you have high-blood pressure, they will immediately recommend medication. However, if you don’t have high-blood pressure but could if the current situation is allowed to take its course, they can recommend alternative solutions that will keep you from the actual diagnosis and the need for medication.
Is Cold Stress Testing Necessary for Breast Screening?
What is Cold Stressing & Why We Don’t Do It Anymore—Based on a Position Paper & Discussion by Peter Leando
Cold stress testing of breasts was implemented due to the thought that thermography could identify angiogenesis. This now identified angiogenesis was then assumed to be in direct correlation with the development and existence of breast cancer. However, after further research, medical professionals found this method to be insufficient and unreliable. There is still much that we don’t know about angiogenesis and so cannot rely on it as a means for diagnosis.
Cold Testing Considerations, Logic, and Philosophy
Cold testing was at one point considered a supplemental means for thermographers to achieve a conclusive diagnosis. However, after further research, it was found that in many cases it was best to forgo this screening method. Though used very little, understanding the considerations, logic, and philosophy of cold testing is important.
- The test is not justified if there is no suspicious thermal patterns to test.
- Due to the fact that suspicious patterns remain so, even after a thermogram, the results of cold testing do not affect those obtained from thermography.
- The results of a cold test are not immediately conclusive and so cannot build a diagnosis.
- It is a disservice to subject patients to multiple tests due to a positive thermography test; producing diagnostic results from a single study is not acceptable.
- Though cold stress testing should be utilized in diagnostic testing for CRPS/RSD, it is not a reliable means of breast screening. However, if it is incorporated in a comparative analysis of thermal testing by a licensed physician, then it can carry merit. Because in the past it was used as a means for breast screening and found to wanting in reliability, thermologists have received criticism for their methods. However, this criticism holds no weight in regards to thermography itself.
Peter Leando goes on to say in his paper, “in the mid eighties many people, including myself got excited by the potential offered by breast thermography performed with cold stressing. . . My own observations regarding the low rates of correlation between the results of cold stress tests and case histories and the growing evidence of false positives and false negatives led me to abandon cold stressing of breasts in the early nineties. I learned a more logical and more efficient approach which still relied on the detection of changes in the breast over time but was far more objective and reliable.”
Since this period in Leando’s research, we have made significant strides in obtaining information as to how to incorporate thermography into our regular preventative healthcare. However, if history proves true, it is best to remain open to new research and technology that could provide us even more advantages. With this in mind, we conclude it is better to continue to look to current and future testing forms than to look back at those used before.
Peter’s Leando’s paper was published August 2003 ACCT Thermology Times.
Have Clinical Tests Been Done on Thermal Imaging?
Yes! Breast thermography has been highly tested with over 800-peer-reviewed studies which can be found in the Medicus literature. Over 300,000 women have participated in these studies and each pool of participants being between 10,000 and 85,000. Some patients have been followed for up to 12 years.
Conclusions found in breast thermography clinical trials include:
- Detection of the early signs of cancer, up to 10 years before any other procedure or testing method.
- The long-term survival rate of those recipients of thermography has been increased up to 61 percent.
- When thermography is used in conjunction with clinical examination and mammography (a multimodal approach), 95 percent of early-stage cancers have been detected.
How Often Should I Have a Thermal Scan?
To establish a baseline, you must receive another thermography test three months after your initial one. After that, it is recommended that you receive annual comparative studies. Having an annual thermography screening, with an established baseline will help physicians easily detect any changes that may require further investigation. Also, your risk for breast disease and your personal health history can also influence how often you should obtain a breast thermography screening.
If I have a Suspicious Mammogram or find a Lump in My Breast, Should I Still Have a Thermogram?
Yes. A breast thermography scan can greatly aid in finding additional information which can significantly influence your diagnosis. Having a baseline will assist in the diagnosis process.
Who Should Have a Thermal Scan?
Anyone can have a thermal scan. Breast thermography scans have been found to greatly increase your chances of catching dangerous fast-growing abnormalities, especially between mammographic screenings or when your healthcare plan does not require you to obtain an annual mammogram test.
Younger women under 40 who have dense breast tissue can find great comfort in breast thermography; dense breast tissue can make it hard for the mammogram to “see” concerning tumors.
Also, breast cancer grows faster in women under 40 years old, causing the development of a cancerous abnormality without intervention to be incredibly high. A tumor can double for women under 50 in 80 days versus women between the ages of 40 and 70 in 157 days. Another factor to keep in mind is that the faster a malignant tumor grows the more infrared radiation it generates. With all this in mind, investing in breast thermography screenings can be incredibly beneficial and in some cases life-saving.
Does it Hurt to Have a Scan Taken?
No. A breast thermography scan is non-invasive and does not at any point during the imaging process touch the patient.
Is There Any Harmful Radiation in a Thermal Scan?
Because a breast thermography scan detects radiation, it does not emit radiation.
Is a Thermal Scan Different than a Mammogram or Ultrasound?
A mammogram and ultrasound are used to analyze the structural elements of the breast tissue and both use compression as a means for creating the image. In contrast, a breast thermography scan is used to judge the physiology of the breast tissue. No compression or contact is used to create a thermographic image.
Though breast thermography isn’t an alternative to a mammogram, it can show some abnormalities that are sometimes difficult to see in dense breast tissue and can give young women with a history of breast cancer peace of mind.
Though a biopsy is the only method to truly diagnose cancer, breast thermography, if used together with clinical examinations and mammograms, can be a powerful addition to your preventative and proactive healthcare plan.
Why is Thermal Imaging Useful for Breast Imaging?
Breast thermography is useful for the earliest detection of cancer and breast disease, even in comparison to breast self-examination, physician palpation, or mammography alone.
Each woman has a thermal fingerprint (normally symmetric) that is unique to her, and if she should remain healthy, her thermal fingerprint should remain static throughout her lifetime. Because this fingerprint remains the same, any changes can be clear signs of the presence of pathology. Establishing a baseline and monitoring changes with breast thermography is an efficient and effective way to catch breast cancer and other harmful abnormalities in their earliest stages.
Because breast thermography is a non-invasive test, detecting radiation that the body naturally emits, this test can be a wonderful supplemental test for everyone.
General Thermography FAQs
What is thermography?
Thermography is a picture taken with a special infrared camera to capture the physiology or function of the body. The interpretation of these images by trained and certified Thermologists (Doctors) gives information about what is happening in the body. Thermography is different from screenings that we are accustomed to that look at anatomy or body parts. Looking at function gives us additional and often earlier signs of a problem.
How is thermography done?
There is no compression or radiation involved in thermal imaging.
The patient is given time to relax and acclimate to a comfortable room temperature. A series of images are taken with the medical infrared camera. Depending on the area we are screening, different series of images will be taken. Because infrared is looking at skin temperature, the patient disrobes for the images. All considerations for modesty are taken.
About thermography procedure
The patient comes in to the office and is given paperwork to fill out. This mainly consists of their personal health and family history. They are given a gown to put on and relax while acclimating to a cool but comfortable room . The Doctor or Technician will review the paperwork and take a more complete history. The patient will then sit or stand in front of the camera and a series of images are taken. After the patient leaves, the images and history are submitted to the Certified Medical Doctor Thermologists for interpretation. The patient then receives a copy of their interpretation report and images. In our office, all new patients are called to review the language of the report. We are always happy to answer any questions our patients have about the findings.
Thermography vs. Mammogram
Many patients have heard that a thermogram is better than a mammogram. Or they have been told that it is not as good. Neither is correct, as they are completely different tests. Apples to Oranges. Thermography is looking at function or physiology, whereas mammograms, MRI’s and sonograms are looking at form or anatomy. Different information is derived for different types of tests.
Benefits of thermography
Digital infrared thermal imaging (DITI) or thermography is a test of physiology. Looking at function, we can see patterns that may become a problem down the line. It is like looking at your blood sugar patterns before you are diagnosed as diabetic. With this information, our goal is to be a proactive health screening, helping our patients maintain or return to good health.
Because there is no radiation or compression, thermography is safe for everyone.
The screening can help people to monitor the effectiveness of their treatments.
What Certification Should a Thermographer Have to Perform this Exam?
Anyone who performs a breast thermography or medical thermography scan should have obtained certification from a professional body. This professional body should have a code of ethics, practice protocols, and quality control guidelines. A licensed healthcare practitioner should review all reports.
Who Should Interpret My Scans and Write the Report?
Trained and experienced doctors who are certified as medical dermatologists should interpret your images.
What Do I Have to Do to Prepare for a Thermal Scan?
Because medical thermography is a gradient study, it is best to not create or block the natural heat of the body to achieve optimal scans.
Please fill out your patient forms prior to your appointment. Please contact our office (818-769-4045) for information on the specific forms you need to fill out. You can also fill out the forms in our office, as needed.
Do inform our office if you are now pregnant or have been in the last three months, are lactating, or have had surgery or biopsies in the last three months. Thermography may not be appropriate for you at this time.
- Do not apply powder, lotion, or deodorant on the area to be scanned,
- Do not smoke for a minimum of 2 hours before the test.
- Do not consume excessively hot or cold drinks before your test.
- Avoid nutritional supplements with large quantities of niacin on your scan day.
- Do not exercise vigorously 2 hours prior to your thermography scan.
- Do not receive a massage, chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, or physical therapy the day of your appointment.
- Avoid tanning booths and strong sunlight the day of your appointment.
- Wear long hair up. Hair accessories can be provided.
- Avoid tight clothing.
- Fill out patient forms before our appointment. Please contact our office for the required forms.
What Parts of the Body Can Be Scanned?
Any portion of the body can be scanned. Thermography images can be taken of the whole body or a specific region of concern. Low back, pelvis, and legs would be part of a lumbar assessment and a cervical assessment would be an image of the head and neck, upper trunk, and arms.
Is Thermal Imaging Covered by Insurance?
Whether your whole body, regional, or breast thermography is covered by your insurance depends on your insurance company and your policy. We at Advanced Medical Thermography request payment at the time of your service. However, we will provide you a medical receipt to give to your insurance company for complete or partial reimbursement. Most insurance companies consider a thermography scan an out of pocket expense. However, many health savings plans have accepted thermography charges.
We accept credit cards.
What is Thermal Imaging Used for?
Medical thermography can:
- Aid in discovering the cause of pain.
- Be a means for early detection of disease and pathology.
- Define an injury or condition previously diagnosed.
- Find an abnormal area for further diagnostic testing.
- See healing and rehabilitation progress.
What is Thermal Imaging?
Medical thermography also known as digital infrared thermal imaging or DITI is a means for proactive preventative healthcare. It is a non-invasive, painless, imaging procedure which records the thermal patterns of your body. Thermal images obtained from a medical thermography scan can be used to diagnose and monitor pain or pathology anywhere in your body.
If you have additional questions, contact Advanced Medical Thermography in Los Angeles or schedule an appointment with us for a breast thermography screening. Dr. Smith and her staff would love to help you better understand medical and breast thermography and how it can be a beneficial supplemental breast screening method and a key element of your preventative healthcare plan.