The Most Frequently Asked Questions About Thermography... Answered!

What is Thermography?

Breast Thermography is an imaging procedure where infrared images of the breast are analyzed and rated to determine breast anomalies which will produce metabolic changes. Thermography is non-invasive, safe and painless - no radiation or compression is used.

Breast Thermography is based on the premise that before the growth of abnormal cells is possible, a constant blood supply must be circulated to the growth area. Chemical and blood vessel activity in both pre-anomalous tissue and the area surrounding a developing breast anomaly is almost always higher than in the normal breast. Since pre-anomalous and anomalous masses are highly metabolic tissues, they need an abundant supply of nutrients to maintain their growth and this can increase the surface temperatures of the breast. Breast Thermography measures the heat generated by the microcirculation of blood in the breast during this process.

Kelowna Thermography FAQ

Why Thermography?

Thermal imaging has been an available medical test for more than 50 years now. Thermography is completely safe, does not expose a patient to any form of radiation, and it is a non-invasive and painless test with absolutely no adverse effects and with no contraindications. It can be used at any age and provides a diagnostic tool far superior to others in the early stages of some diseases.

It is always important to stay proactive and well informed in your own health care. In addition to your regular medical breast examinations, consider regular breast screening with Thermography, the results could change your life. Thermography is one of the best early warning systems available today.


How is it Done?

A state-of-the-art FDA approved infrared imaging camera measures skin temperature and transmits this information to a computer which converts these radiometric measurements into images. These thermographic findings are evaluated based on 32 standard thermological signs and quantification criteria as set forth and accepted standards of clinical thermology. Temperature measurements will differ in various parts of the body, but in a normal healthy individual, the temperature changes should be relatively symmetrical. Once the images are acquired in a controlled setting they are sent for processing to our board certified clinical Thermologists for analysis and interpretation. Your written report is then returned to your imaging center in a few days and presented back to you with an explanation and follow up recommendations. Studies show that when breast thermography is used as part of a multimodal approach (clinical examination + thermography + mammography), 95% of early stage anomalies will be detected.

Normal Breast Thermogram - Low Risk

Symmetrical distribution in both breasts

Normal 'Low-Risk' Healthy Breast Thermogram

Abnormal Breast Thermogram

Note the very high temperatures and asymmetrical presentation

Thermogram Showing Cancer Found In The Left Breast


Is Breast Thermography Safe?

Yes! It is FDA approved in the United States and has been used there and in Europe for over twenty years. Thermography is a non-invasive test. This means that nothing is sent into your body. It simply is creating an image of your breasts by measuring your heat. There is no contact of any kind, nor is there any pain or radiation.


Can thermography diagnose breast cancer?

No. Thermography, like mammography is a screening tool. Thermography identifies abnormal physiological changes in your breasts that may be cancerous. Mammography, a type of x-ray, identifies certain structures in the breast that can potentially be cancer. With both Mammography and Thermography, definitive diagnosis is done by other procedures such as a biopsy or lumpectomy. Many of our patients come in after an abnormal “lets watch this area” mammography, and correlate the area to be watched with a thermographic image of the same area. If the thermography shows an issue in the same area, the patient will have more information with which to make an informed decision.


Have any studies been done regarding the accuracy of Thermography?

Yes, hundreds of studies have been written up in medical journals.
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Do I need a referral from my family physician?

No, a referral is not necessary. You can simply call us to set up your appointment!


How long does it take?

The scan, including the time to acclimate to the room will take 20 to 30 minutes. The follow-up consultation at a later date will take about 20 minutes


How often will I need a re-scan?

This depends on the results of your initial scan. With no unusual changes noted and depending on your age, we will recommend re-scanning annually or every 2 years. If your scan shows changes, depending on the level of risk, you will be asked to have a re-scan sooner.


I have breast implants – is thermography safe?

Yes. Breast implants do not interfere with thermography. Breast Thermography is painless and safe, using no radiation or compression. It can be used effectively and safely for all women including pregnant or nursing women, women with dense breast tissue, and women with breast implants.


Why do we plunge our hands into cold water during the scan?

You will be asked to plunge your hands into ice water for 60 seconds during the exam. This is known as a stress test - the shock of the cold water will put your body into a "fright and flight" response. Normal blood vessels will contract and cool down, blood vessels feeding abnormal cells will not. The technician will then repeat the process of taking the images for a before and after view.


Does Thermography replace Mammography?

No, we recommend that thermography be used together with mammography for the most comprehensive screening and the earliest possible detection.