+ Does breast thermography replace mammography?

No. The two screening tools complement each other. Mammography is specifically looking for the anatomy of the breast, while thermography is looking for physiology, or thermal changes, in the breast. In other words, as far as breast cancer, a mammogram will show a lump, where a thermogram will show heat patterns created around the lump and feeding into the lump.

Breast thermography is a very important screening tool for the 25-49 age group before an annual mammogram may be recommended. This is extremely important for younger women because breast tissue tends to be more dense making it more difficult for radiologists to see a tumor on a mammogram. Breast cancer in younger women also tends to be more aggressive making thermography critical in detecting any early signals.

Many women, despite their doctors recommendation, for their own personal reasons, will choose thermograpy as an alternative to mammography. We respect each person’s right to choose their health care options.

+ What is the difference between thermography and mammography?

The biggest difference is that breast thermography does not emit any radiation, and is completely free of compression and pain. Mammography uses radiation to capture an x-ray of the breast. Breast thermography uses infrared heat emitted out of the body to capture an image of the breast

Mammography uses x-rays to differentiate normal tissue from physical tumors and other breast abnormalities based on their densities. In many cases it detects tumors that are already of significant size (>1cm in most cases). There is a fair amount of difficulty in reading the mammograms of women who are on hormone replacement, are nursing, or have fibrocystic, large, dense, or enhanced breasts. These conditions do not cause difficulty in reading breast thermograms.

Breast thermography signals, mammography locates, ultrasound confirms, and biopsy establishes diagnosis.

+ How does breast thermography work?

It starts out with a high-resolution, highly sensitive infrared camera. Keep Cool Thermography uses a high resolution, highly-sensitive infrared camera that actually was awarded product of the month through NASA.  These cameras are able to differentiate and measure very subtle temperature differences in infrared heat emission from tumors, cysts, infections, or trauma in the breast. Because tumor tissue does not have an intact sympathetic nervous system, it cannot control heat loss. When the breast is cooled in a temperature controlled room, blood vessels of normal tissue may respond by constricting to conserve heat while tumor tissue and its blood vessels may remains hot. Thus, the vascular patterns that may be associated with tumors may emit more heat than their surrounding tissues which allows them to be detected by our heat sensing infrared camera.

Each woman has her own individual, highly specific thermal pattern to her breast which can be monitored over time. Her pattern will remain the same throughout the years unless there is a change in her breast health. This makes a baseline and follow up a key ingredient in overall breast health and in differentiating between cancers and benign conditions.

+ What are some of the potential risks/shortcomings of screening mammograms?

In no way does Keep Cool Thermography take the stance that mammograms are unnecessary or give any advice to NOT get a mammogram. It is the opinion of Keep Cool Thermography that the current system should be periodically re-evaluated, as with any science, to challenge old information with new and current research. It is solely up to the discretion of each doctor-patient team to make such decisions for each individual. We provide the following information ONLY to educate our patients on the status of information in this field.

This is taken directly off  of the National Cancer Institute’s website. It is not intended to prevent you from having a mammogram, but its intent is to inform you of the risks and shortcomings of mammography. Remember, just because you had a negative mammogram, does not necessarily mean you are cancer free. This is why it is important to have others tests such as thermography, ultrasound and  clinical breast exams performed.

  1. Finding cancer early does not always reduce a woman’s chance of dying from breast cancer. Even though mammograms can detect malignant tumors that cannot be felt, treating a small tumor does not always mean that the woman will not die from the cancer. A fast-growing or aggressive cancer may have already spread to other parts of the body before it is detected. Women with such tumors live a longer period of time knowing that they likely have a fatal disease.

    In addition, screening mammograms may not help prolong the life of a woman who is suffering from other, more life-threatening health conditions.

  2. False-negative results. False-negative results occur when mammograms appear normal even though breast cancer is present. Overall, screening mammograms miss about 20 percent of breast cancers that are present at the time of screening.

    The main cause of false-negative results is high breast density. Breasts contain both dense tissue (i.e., glandular tissue and connective tissue, together known as fibroglandular tissue) and fatty tissue. Fatty tissue appears dark on a mammogram, whereas fibroglandular tissue appears as white areas. Because fibroglandular tissue and tumors have similar density, tumors can be harder to detect in women with denser breasts.

    False-negative results occur more often among younger women than among older women because younger women are more likely to have dense breasts. As a woman ages, her breasts usually become more fatty, and false-negative results become less likely. False-negative results can lead to delays in treatment and a false sense of security for affected women.

  3. False-positive results. False-positive results occur when radiologists decide mammograms are abnormal but no cancer is actually present. All abnormal mammograms should be followed up with additional testing (diagnostic mammograms, ultrasound, and/or biopsy) to determine whether cancer is present.

    False-positive results are more common for younger women, women who have had previous breast biopsies, women with a family history of breast cancer, and women who are taking estrogen (for example, menopausal hormone therapy).

    False-positive mammogram results can lead to anxiety and other forms of psychological distress in affected women. The additional testing required to rule out cancer can also be costly and time consuming and can cause physical discomfort.

  4. Overdiagnosis and overtreatment. Screening mammograms can find cancers and cases of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS, a noninvasive tumor in which abnormal cells that may they can also find cancers and cases of DCIS that will never cause symptoms or threaten a woman’s life, leading to “overdiagnosis” of breast cancer. Treatment of these latter cancers and cases of DCIS is not needed and leads to “overtreatment.” Overtreatment exposes women unnecessarily to the adverse effects associated with cancer therapy.

    Because doctors often cannot distinguish cancers and cases of DCIS that need to be treated from those that do not, they are all treated.

  5. Radiation exposure. Mammograms require very small doses of radiation. The risk of harm from this radiation exposure is extremely low, but repeated x-rays have the potential to cause cancer. The benefits of mammography, however, nearly always outweigh the potential harm from the radiation exposure. Nevertheless, women should talk with their health care providers about the need for each x-ray. In addition, they should always let their health care provider and the x-ray technician know if there is any possibility that they are pregnant, because radiation can harm a growing fetus.

+ What are the possible risks/shortcomings of thermography?

Because thermogragphy is non-invasive, there is no radiation, compression, or discomfort, therefore there are absolutely no risks involved. A 2008 Cornell Study concluded that women who are morbidly obese and with breast size greater than DD may not be ideal candidates for thermography. If a tumor is very slow growing and not metabolically active or hot, this may also cause decreased accuracy or failure to show up on a thermogram. No test is 100% accurate, however, a breast thermogram includes a series of six separate shots to check the breast at all different angles in order to have the most accurate test results as possible.

+ What can I expect during a thermography appointment?

The first thing you will be required to do is to download a medical history form and the protocol form to prepare for your exam. It is very important to read over your protocol at least 24 hours prior to your appointment to ensure an accurate thermogram.

A typical breast thermography appointment generally takes 45 minutes. It is simple, pain-free, radiation and compression free. It is as simple as having your photo taken! You will be welcomed into a cool, temperature controlled room where you will be asked to disrobe from the waist up. If you are having a full body thermogram, you will be asked to fully disrobe except for a thong or jock strap. This will get rid of any hot spots from clothing on the skin. Six images (for breast scan) will be captured to ensure all angles of the breast and lymph area are scanned. This is crucial as mammography is not able to capture the lymph area under the armpits where many cancers are located.

The scans will be then be sent to our MD radiologist and board certified thermographer who will interpret the images and send back a complete report of their findings and recommendations. You will then be called back in to the office for a complete review of your thermogram and to answer any questions you may have.

Because Keep Cool Thermography is located inside a Green Bay, Wisconsin wellness clinic, there is access to naturopath doctors, a multitude of testing, supplementation if needed, nutritional information, and healthy lifestyle resources and products. You are never just given your thermogram report back without recommendations of what to do next.

+ Who interprets the images for Keep Cool Thermography?

Interpreting Doctors

Dr. Robert Kane

Dr. Robert Kane is known as "The Voice of Thermography." He holds Diplomate Certification with the American Board of Clinical Thermographers and the International Academy of Clinical Thermology, and also holds Fellowship with the International Academy of Clinical Thermology.

With over 18 years of experience in the field of thermography, Dr Kane is a leading trainer of thermographic technicians and has championed quality control high standards in the imaging field. He currently provides private thermography interpretation services to 20 centers in the U.S., Canada and Israel.

As a leading advocate for women's optimal health and wellness, Dr. Kane is the world's leading authority on providing a compassionate approach to help women lower their risk of breast cancer through non-invasive testing and monitoring.

Dr. Jeanne Stryker M.D.

Dr. Jeanne Stryker M.D.,is a board certified radiologist with dual fellowship imaging. She is a Harvard, Dartmouth and UCLA graduate with expertise as a radiologist with five years of residency and two years of fellowship. She is board certified by the American Board of Radiology which is of the highest distinction in the medical field. No other thermal interpreter has this qualification. She is certified by the IAMT and by Dr. Bill Cockburn who is now deceased. He was one of the founders of thermography.

+ What recommendations might be made following an abnormal breast thermogram?

Follow up recommendations are always included on the doctors report. These may include a follow up thermogram in 3, 6 or 12 months. It may also include a recommendation for an ultrasound, mammogram, or possibly an MRI.

When you come back in for your review, we will thoroughly review nutritional and lifestyle changes that can make a huge difference in your overall health and help to reduce your risk of breast cancer.

+ Can thermography view the digestive tract, uterus, and organs?

This is a question that many people ask and the answer is typically no. Since thermography is a non-invasive screening tool and not an anatomical medical test, thermograms are generally unable see organs directly. However, although internal organs are too deep to be viewed, they can display referred heat patterns that may be seen on the skin by thermography.

This generally takes correlation with other medical imaging tests. Thermography does not replace medical tests such as CT scans, MRI’s or PET scans, but can be used to gather more information and to signal areas that may need further investigation. For example, in cases of the thyroid, as thyroxine is lowered in the blood the demand on the thyroxin producing cells increases. This makes them metabolically more active and hotter. This heat is picked up on a thermogram sometimes before lab tests show abnormal.

+ Can breast thermography detect Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC)?

Although IBC is very rare (approximately 3% of all breast cancers) it is a very fast spreading and aggressive type cancer. IBC is the most malignant form of breast cancer. It tends to be seen in younger women where there are no guidelines for this age group of 25-40 years old. Due to the inflammatory nature of IBC, thermography is the ideal screening tool because of the high amount of heat emitted from this cancer. Mammography has its limitations with IBC because there is no real detectable mass. Therefore, thermography is the first critical line of defense to signal this inflammatory process in the breast for younger women.

+ Is thermography only for women with a family history of breast cancer?

No. The majority of women diagnosed today with breast cancer have no family history and are taken completely off guard.. No screening procedure is 100%, so the more tools available, the better chance of detecting a problem. Thermography is an important adjunct for women who do or do not have a family history or for women who have a known genetic predisposition.

+ Is breast thermography covered by insurance?

While breast thermography was approved by the FDA in 1982, unfortunately it is rarely covered by health insurance as of yet. Some patients are able to receive reimbursement through their personal flex-plans, however, Keep Cool Thermography does not bill insurance directly.

+ Is breast thermography approved by the FDA?

Yes! Breast thermography was FDA approved for use as an adjunctive breast cancer screening procedure in 1982.

+ Is breast thermography new? I have never heard of it.

The concept of thermography is not new. In 460 B.C. Hippocrates would place mud and clay over people and look for heat areas that would dry faster. These hot spots would be areas in which he would focus on. The same concept is used today, however there have been tremendous advances in technology, especially over the past 20 years in the sensitivity of the infrared cameras and software. There are doctors, chiropractors, naturopaths, nutritionists, etc.. using thermography throughout the US and the world. There have been over 800 indexed studies in the past 40 years with well over 300,000 women participants demonstrating infrared imaging’s abilities in the early detection of breast cancer.

* Cancer, 1980, Volume 56, 45-51. (17) Fifty-eight thousand patients with breast complaints were examined between 1965 and 1977. Twelve hundred and forty-five patients with abnormal Th3 mammotherms had normal breasts by mammography, ultrasound, physical exam, and biopsy. Thirty-eight percent of women with normal breasts and 44% of those with mastopathy developed biopsy proven breast cancer within five years. Ninety percent of patients with Th4 or 5 had diagnosis of cancer made on their first visit.

* Biomedical Thermology, 1982, 279-301, Alan Liss, Inc, New York. Michel Gautherie, MD, followed 10,834 women over 2 to 10 years by clinical examination, mammography and thermography. (15) The study followed 387 people with normal breast examinations and mammograms but Th3 thermographic scores for an average of less than three years. In those without symptoms, 33% developed cancer. In those with cystic mastitis, cancer developed in 41%. These were predominately women between 30 to 45 years of age where breast cancer is the leading cause of death.

* Thermology, 1986, Volume 1, 170-73. (18) The effectiveness of mammography, clinical palpation, and thermography were compared in the detection of breast cancer. Thermography had the best reliability, but the best results were found when all three were used together.

* The Breast Journal, Volume 4, 1998, 245-51. (19) Keyserlingk et al documented 85% sensitivity in diagnosing breast cancer using clinical examination and mammography together. This increased to 98% when breast thermography was added.

* American Journal of Radiology, January 2003, 263-69. (16) The journal reported that thermography has 99% sensitivity in identifying breast cancer with single examinations and limited views. Thus, a negative thermogram (Th1 or Th2) in this setting is powerful evidence that cancer is not present.

* In 1965, Gershon-Cohen et al. (35), a radiologis and researcher from the Albert Einstein Medical Center introduced infrared imaging to the US (35). Using a Barnes thermograph, he reported on 4000 cases with a sensitivity of 94% and false-positive rate of 6%. This date was included in a review of the then current status of intratred imaging published in CA-A Cancer Journal for Physicians (36)

* A more recent study from 2008, Department of Surgery, New York Presbyterian Hospital-Cornell, New York, NY.  In this study 92 patients for whom a breast biopsy was recommended based on prior mammogram or ultrasound underwent DITI.  Sixty of 94 biopsies were malignant 34 were benign. DITI identified 58 of 60 malignancies with 97% sensitivity. Conclusion was that DITI is a valuable adjunct to mammography and ultrasound, especially in women with dense breast parenchyma.