Information from New England Clinical Thermography: "One discussion point that comes up frequently is the roughly 15% of cancers that Thermography may miss.
Breast Thermography is primarily looking for change to established temperatures/patterns for a specific patient. Asymmetry, neovascularity (angiogenesis), hot/cold areas are all important. Early changes are an important part of what makes thermography valuable.
If a patient comes to us with an established cancer, which the body has accepted and possibly encapsulated as it grows (or is in a dormant stage), then that cancer may become part of the standard patterns for that patient and not be picked up by thermal imaging/thermal change. An established DCIS might be a good example of this.
We have had a couple of cases with patients who were found to have a breast cancer by other screening methods that did not show on the single occasion we imaged them. Would we have seen change with additional imaging, or were these cases of established cancers with no current thermal indication? We don’t know.
We had another case where a patient was undergoing non-invasive treatment for cancer and hoping to monitor progress with Thermography. In this case, Thermography did not show any change but MRI imaging indicated that there was noticeable growth.
What should we take away from all of this?
- Thermography is a useful early screening tool. The earlier age we can begin imaging, the more likely we will identify changes. If we may see change 5 to 10 years early, then a case could be make for beginning thermal breast screening in the age 30 to 35 range.
- Thermography does not see everything. 85% sensitive all on its own. Other screening techniques should be part of a screening regimen – mammography, ultrasound, or another technique agreed between the patient and their doctor. We do not recommend any of our patients to rely solely on Thermography.
- If there is an existing cancer being treated, thermography is only a useful screening tool where it can be determined that we can see the change in that specific case. The technique that sees the tumor would then be the clear choice in this case."