Infrared breast thermography is based on the fact that blood vessel activity surrounding a developing cancer is almost always higher than in normal breast tissue. With an ever-increasing demand for nutrients, cancerous tumor cells release chemicals that open existing blood vessels as well as create new ones. Vascular alterations resulting from cancer frequently result in temperature changes on the surface of the breast which can be demonstrated with infrared thermography. Thermal abnormalities identified with infrared imaging are among the earliest signs of a pre-cancerous or cancerous lesion of the breast. The ability of infrared thermography to identify these vascular abnormalities and the resulting temperature changes are well-established in research trials [1,2,3,4,5,6].
Obtaining thermal images of the breasts provides valuable information. This is especially true of women with large, dense, fibrocystic, or augmented breasts, which are usually difficult to image with mammography. Mammography is dependent upon the density and the size of a breast mass and any additional dense breast tissue makes interpretation difficult. Because thermography is not in any way impacted by density, cysts, or breast size (it is looking at blood flow), it is an extremely useful diagnostic tool to evaluate and manage these women.
For all women, a thermogram is like an infrared fingerprint of the breast. It will not change over time unless there has been an alteration in blood flow. It is for this reason that thermography is ideal not only for breast cancer screening, but also for monitoring suspicious findings identified with other tests such as ultrasound, mammography or with physical examination.
Thermography also has prognostic value. The more abnormal a thermogram is, the more likely the cancer is to be aggressive and spread rapidly. In fact, a persistently abnormal thermogram carries with it a risk of developing breast cancer that is 22 times greater than that of the average woman . This knowledge is invaluable because steps can be taken to screen a highrisk candidate more often, leading to earlier diagnosis. Most experts agree that early diagnosis and treatment improves survival. Extensive clinical trials have shown that breast thermography improves long-term survival rates of its recipients by as much as 61% . In addition to assisting with early diagnosis, an abnormal thermogram can allow a woman to adopt preventive strategies that may inhibit cancer from developing or decrease the likelihood that it will spread.
Acupuncture is an integral part of the work we do at Innovative Health & Wellness Center, and our doctors are especially well qualified: Dr. Cindy Howard is a fellow of the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture and Dr. Steven Zaeske studied acupuncture at the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Shanghai, China.