Breast Cancer Detection - Thermography versus Mammography

Susanna Sisson's picture
Thermography for breast cancer detection

The chance of getting breast cancer in one’s lifetime is 1 in 8 with about 15% of woman under the age of 45 being diagnosed. There has been a lot of debate over the efficacy of thermograms versus mammograms, but today there is more research on diagnostic tools. What must be understood are the differences between the two tests.


Mammograms have been the gold standard for diagnosing breast cancer for decades, but there are inherent problems with this diagnostic tool.

Radiation exposure – Radiation even in small amounts should be avoided. Yearly mammograms expose delicate breast tissue to repeated exposure. Radiation exposure is a known cause of cancers.
Painful – Mammograms hurt and if you do have a lump put pressure on that growth.
Accuracy – Mammograms are only useful in detecting cancer once the cancer is present not before and are not accurate means of visualizing cancer in the armpit area or in dense breast tissue.
Early detection is a myth – Mammograms do not detect precancerous cells. Studies have shown that by the time a tumor has grown to sufficient size to be detectable by physical examination or mammography, it has in fact been growing for about seven years.

Thermograms have been maligned as being ineffective in the diagnosis of breast cancer when indeed the opposite is true, but you have to understand cancer to understand why. Everyone has cancer cells in their body. For a cancer to grow it must have nutrition, so the body’s reaction is called angiogensis, new growth of blood vessels that feed the cancer. Breast thermography may be the first signal that such a change is developing because thermograms can detect subtle changes in temperature that may be indicative of angiogenesis, increased heat due to vascularization, and cancer growth.

Safety – Thermograms do no expose the body to radiation and are not invasive.
Comfort – Thermograms don’t touch the skin so there’s no pain involved.
Early warning - Thermography can detect indications of breast cancer development, abnormal heat, and blood vessel changes produced by diseased breast tissue, providing an 8-10 year earlier detection over traditional mammogram screening.
More accurate - Studies show that an abnormal thermogram is the single most important marker of high risk for developing breast cancer, 10 times more significant than a family history of the disease [2][3]. Abnormal vascular and nervous system infrared temperature patterns can be seen on the surface of the breast with thermography. Women who are on hormone replacement, or have fibrocystic, large, dense, or augmented breasts can get accurate test results with thermography.

Thermogram Guidelines

  • Baseline thermogram at age 20
  • 20-30 years of age – every 3 years
  • 30 years of age and over – every year


What to know before having a thermogram and what to expect

The procedure itself begins with a 15-minute temperature acclimation period. During this time you will be disrobed from the waist up while in a special temperature controlled imaging suite. Once acclimated to the temperature of the room, you will be placed in front of an infrared camera while multiple images are taken from different angles. If having a full body scan be prepared for being fully disrobed.

• No prolonged sun exposure (especially sunburn) to the body areas being imaged 5 days prior to the exam.
• No use of deodorants, lotions, creams, powders, or makeup (no facial makeup for full body or upper body scans) the day of the exam.
• No shaving of the areas to be imaged the day of the exam.
• No treatment (chiropractic, acupuncture, TENS, physical therapy, electrical muscle stimulation, ultrasound, hot or cold pack use) or physical stimulation of the areas to be imaged for 24 hours before the exam.
• No exercise 4 hours prior to the exam.
• If bathing, it must be no closer than 1 hour before the exam.
• If you are using pain medications, please avoid taking them for 4 hours prior to the examination. You must consult with the prescribing physician for his or her consent prior to any change in medication use such as this.
• You must wait at least 4 weeks after having a fine needle or core biopsy of the breast before a thermogram can be performed.
• You must wait at least 8 weeks after having a lumpectomy or surgical biopsy of the breast before a thermogram can be performed.
• If you have had any surgical procedure within the last 12 weeks, please notify our office before coming in for your appointment.
• No physical stimulation of the breasts for 24 hours before the exam, and if you are nursing please try to nurse as far from 1 hour prior to the exam as possible.

Cost - may vary from state to state so be sure to ask your doctor about pricing.

Breast Screen $195 30 min
Women's Health Screen (waist up) $325 45 min
Whole Body Screen $475 45 min

P. Haehnel, M.D., M. Gautherie, Ph.D. et al; Long-Term Assessment of Breast Cancer Risk by Thermal Imaging. In: Biomedical Thermology, 1980; 279-301