When it comes to digital thermography, there are a number of questions that come up time and time again
What is thermography anyway? Is it reliable? Can I tell if I have breast cancer and do I need another mammogram or can I just do thermography?
Digital infrared thermography or thermography is often "compared" to other tests such as mammography. However, thermography cannot be compared to a mammogram because they look at two completely different processes in the body.
Thermography looks at the physiological parts of the body (how it behaves) and mammography looks at the anatomical parts of the body (the skeleton or structure).
Once a normal cell begins to mutate (pre-stage of cancer), its DNA changes to allow for unwanted growth. To maintain the growth of these pre-cancerous (and cancerous) cells, a constant supply of nutrients is required. Thus, a road is needed to maintain this supply. The cells release chemicals into their environment that keep existing blood vessels open, awaken dormant blood vessels, and create new blood vessels: Angiogenesis. The rich vascular areas in the breast provide the conditions needed before growing tumor.
Or: first the road is built and then the house is built.
HOW CAN WE DETECT THIS GROWTH AT THE EARLIEST POSSIBLE STAGE?
Thermography can detect the thermal signs of these changes in its earliest stages, which may indicate the development of either a pre-stage or a pre-existing tumor.
Thermography can thus be the first signal.
- Thermography uses infrared sensors to detect heat and thus the growth of blood vessels (angiogenesis).
- Thermography detects physiological changes in the area a mammogram is much more specific and sees pre-existing thickening.
- The thermographic images provide a risk analysis. It cannot provide a diagnosis.
- Thermography can detect pathological breast disease up to 10 years before a lump is found using another method.
- Thermography has the ability to detect fast growing aggressive tumors that have a lot of blood vessels. In 7 out of 10 women, thermography will be the first alarm that something is wrong.
- A positive infrared image represents the highest known risk factor for the existence or future development of breast cancer - 10 times more significant than a family history of the disease.
If you are going to improve your thermal partons, then you are being proactive.
To get a good idea of what the body needs, we should check the SO-SCHECK can do.
However, if the tumor is encapsulated or only grows slowly, it may not be visible on a thermography.
It starts with the American College of Clinical Thermology
Thermography Amsterdam is the only organization in the Netherlands affiliated with the largest and oldest network of physicians or ACCT.
What is the ACCT?
The American College of Clinical Thermology Inc (ACCT) is the fastest growing and pre-eminent professional organization dedicated to the advancement of thermology and thermography through education, research, and professional development.
Or in Dutch:
The ACCT is the fastest-growing and most prominent professional organization dedicated to the advancement of thermology and thermography through education, research and professional development.
As a member we are certified as level II thermographers and our images are interpreted and reported by the ACCT's thermology doctors.
Why is breast thermography useful?
Breast thermography is done with DITI
Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging (DITI) =
Digital infrared thermal imaging
As I mentioned at the beginning of this letter, Breast Thermogaphy offers the possibility of detecting breast diseases earlier than is possible with only a manual (self) examination, mammography or ultrasound.
Everyone has their own unique thermal patterns (normally symmetrical) which should be stable throughout life.
Any changes in the normal "thermal fingerprint" due to early cellular changes (pathology) will become increasingly evident as time passes.
Tracking changes over time with DITI is the most efficient way to identify issues that require further investigation.
DITI is a non-invasive test. There is no body contact whatsoever, no radiation and the procedure is painless. The scan system detects and records only the infrared radiation emitted by the body. It has been compared to taking a passport photo, but with a special digital infrared camera.
Using the most advanced infrared technology and innovative computer software, we capture a digitized image of the breast in a thermal image, thermogram.
Unfortunately, these images are not transferable to other thermographers who do not work with the system and the doctors of the ACCT. You will then lose your precious history so to speak your film. The longer this film is, the more it gives a picture of your breast health.
Is a thermal scan different from a mammogram or ultrasound?
Unlike mammography and ultrasound, Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging (DITI) is a test of the physiology . It detects and records infrared heat emitted from the body surface. It can help in early detection and monitoring of abnormal physiology and determine risk factors for the onset or existence of cancer.
Mammography and ultrasound are anatomical tests. These look for structure. When a tumor has grown to a size large enough and dense enough to block an X-ray (mammography) or sound wave (ultrasound), it produces an image that can be detected by a trained radiologist.
A mammogram, ultrasound, MRI or DITI can NOT diagnose cancer.
Only one biopsy can diagnose cancer. But When DITI, mammograms, ultrasounds and clinical examinations used togetherthe best possible assessment of breast health can be made.
Is thermography a replacement for mammograms or ultrasounds?
While some women a personal choice to use thermography instead of mammography for breast screening, other women who, for a number of reasons, do not want to have a mammogram can also choose to have a mammogram instead. can undergo, use thermography instead of mammography.
Most women use thermography as supplement for a mammogram and/or an ultrasound.
We believe that DITI should be considered a complementary, non-competitive tool to mammography and ultrasound. DITI can identify women at the highest level of risk and thus actually increase the effective use of mammograms and ultrasounds. Research confirms that DITI, when used in combination with mammography, can improve the sensitivity of breast cancer detection.
The final choice must be made on an individual basis with respect to clinical history, personal circumstances and medical advice.
But how accurate is this thermal imaging for detecting breast cancer?
Canadian researchers have confirmed that infrared images of breast cancer can detect small temperature fluctuations related to blood flow. Abnormal patterns may be linked to tumor progression.
These images or thermograms of the breast were positive for 83% for breast cancer, compared with 61% for clinical breast examination only and 84% for mammography.
The 84% sensitivity rate from mammography alone was increased to 95% when thermography was added.
Is there any harmful radiation in a thermal scan?
DITI detects and records the infrared heat emitted from the body surface. There is no contact with the body and no harmful radiation.
Does it hurt to have a scan?
There is no body contact or painful chest compression.
For whom is thermography suitable?
Any adult from about 25 years can undergo a thermal chest scan.
This test is designed to increase the likelihood of detecting fast-growing tumors in addition to a mammogram, ultrasound or when mammography is not indicated in screening guidelines for women under 50.
DITI is especially appropriate for younger women under 50 whose denser breast tissue makes it more difficult for mammography to pick up suspicious lesions.
This test can provide a 'clinical marker', indicating that a specific area of the breast requires further investigation.
Breast cancer tends to grow significantly faster in younger women (under 50 years of age). The average tumor doubling time for women under 50 is 80 days, compared to 157 days for women between the ages of 50 and 70.
Second, the faster a malignant tumor grows, the more infrared radiation it generates. Therefore, especially for younger women, the results of DITI testing may lead to earlier detection.
If I have a suspicious mammogram or find a breast thickening, should I have a thermogram?
The information provided by a thermographic examination can provide useful additional information that will ultimately help your doctor/therapist make decisions about how to proceed. It is always important to establish a baseline. It is essential to have a baseline established first for future comparison to allow for changes and progression of treatment and or to monitor
How often can I have a thermal scan?
Once a reliable baseline has been established, for which at least two surveys at three-month intervals, it is recommended that an annual comparative examination be carried out to detect any suspicious functional (physiological) changes, which would then warrant further investigation.
Depending on your personal history and risk of breast disease, your doctor/ practitioner may recommend how often you might repeat a thermal exam.
Is there any scientific research?
There are over 800 peer-reviewed studies on breast thermography in the "index medicus".
This database includes over 300,000 women.
The number of participants in many studies is very large (10,000, 37,000, 60,000, 85,000, etc.). Some of these studies have followed patients for up to 12 years.
These clinical trials have shown that breast thermography:
- The first signs of a cancer detect up to 10 years before any other procedure can detect it.
- Long-term survival significantly improved by as much as 61%.
- When used as part of a multimodal approach (clinical examination + thermography + mammography), 95% detects cancers at an early stage.
For a overview of the study: Follow this link to the page of the ACCT.
If breast thermography is so great, why isn't it everywhere or my doctor doesn't know about it?
We asked the same question.
The answer is somewhat political and has a strong international influence but maybe this will help:
Competing with mammography?
When thermography was first explored for breast imaging, it was considered competitive to mammography.
It was tested and evaluated to see if it was safer and more diagnostically accurate than mammography.
These comparisons should not have been made, since you cannot compare tests of physiology and anatomy.
Initial investigations seemed to indicate "false positives."
Especially when testing thermography on younger women, the thermographic abnormalities many times, but the mammogram didn't detect any tumors.
Dhese results were considered false positives (false positives).
The more young women were screened with these so-called false positives, the more distrust of thermography grew.
Years Laterin repeat examinations, a large percentage of these women had developed breast cancer or other breast disorders right at the site of the abnormal "false positive" thermogram. This confirmed the role of thermography in early warning.
The only 'fault' of thermography was that it was too early and too accurate so that the results could not be confirmed at the time.
Thermography in other areas of medicine
Second, thermography has been used in sports medicine, dentistry, podiatry, chiropractic, orthopedic rheumatology, and neurology for supportive or complementary diagnosis.
In the United States, it was soon realized that thermography could clearly, objectively, and easily demonstrate the physiological component of pain and injury, especially to the spine resulting from automobile accidents, industrial accidents, and in numerous other "tort" cases. All involved benefited from these positive test results, which could be clearly shown to a jury. Everyone except the defendants' legal expenses insurance companies.
Mostly no reimbursement for Medical Thermography in the United States due to successful backlash
Needless to say, the insurance industry there went all out to reduce the value of thermography in courts due to high litigation costs. Ultimately, lobbying of policy makers at the American Medical Association and health insurers resulted in the removal of thermography coverage by most insurance companies and the greatly reduced use of thermography in the United States. This was very unfortunate for patients who could clearly benefit from thermography.