Breast thermography: Can it detect breast cancer?

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Breast thermography: Can it detect breast cancer?

Question

What is Mayo Clinic's opinion on breast thermography for the early detection of breast cancer?

David
Canada

Answer

Thermography, also called thermal imaging, has been studied for several decades. However, there is no evidence that breast thermography is an effective screening tool for early detection of breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

Breast thermography is a way of detecting differences in skin temperature on the surface of the breast with the use of a special heat-sensing (infrared) camera. It is based on the theory that surface temperature increases in areas of increased blood flow and metabolism, such as in a tumor. Breast thermography is noninvasive and uses no radiation.

This technology is most effective in detecting tumors that are close to the skin surface but not tumors deeper in the breast. Also, breast thermography is not sensitive enough to detect small cancers.

Breast thermography is not routinely used for breast cancer detection and should not be used instead of mammograms. Scientists continue to investigate the usefulness of thermography in detecting breast cancer.

Last Updated: 08/10/2006
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