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Can thermography be used as an alternative to mammograms?

Most women are not aware of  Breast Thermographyas a breast screening modality.  This is a surprising  since medical thermography has been in use since the early 1970’s and the modality was approved by the FDA in 1982 for breast cancer detection and risk assessment, as an adjunct, though not an alternative to mammograms.


The difference between mammograms and thermograms is profound. Mammography, like MRI and sonography, looks at anatomical changes of the breast. It may take up to ten years for the tumor to grow to a sufficient size to be detectable by either a mammogram or a physical examination. By that time, the tumor has achieved more than 25 doublings of the malignant cell colony and may have already metastasized.


Thermography looks at physiological changes of the breast. The infrared camera detects the heat which is emitted by the breast. It does not compress or disperse any radiation to the breast. Additionally, it can show small, unilateral temperature increases, which may be caused by an increased blood supply to cancer cells. Cancer cells have an ability to create new blood vessels to the effected area in order to satisfy the increased demand for nutrients resulting from the higher rate of growth and metabolic demands of the new colony.


Physiological changes in the breast can precede anatomical mammographic detection by seven to ten years, therefore, allowing us to react early in a preventative mode that may stop the development of overt cancer. The study is interpreted with the help of computer analysis and interpretation by specialized physicians that are trained to read thermograms. The study can be interpreted as normal, low moderate or higher risk. A holistic protocol is then implemented in order to prevent the formation of overt cancer.


One of the major limitations of mammography is its inability to diagnose cancer in the case of dense breast. Thermography is used to observe changes in temperature in dense breast tissue and therefore often can be helpful in screening.  Thermograms, though not an alternative to mammograms, can be very useful in breast screening and can be important in picking up physiologic changes and new blood vessel formation years before an actual tumor is formed.


I am a provider or physician, how do I refer a patient for Thermography?

Thank you for your referral. Please download, complete and fax the form below back to Oregon Natural Medicine at 503-406-3000.Thermography referral Form

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