Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • October 2015
Written by 

Breast Cancer Awareness Q&A

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, therefore I thought I would answer some frequently asked questions about thermography.

What is the difference between thermography and mammography?

  • Mammography assesses anatomically (mass) and thermography assesses function (inflammatory).
  • Radiation is emitted in a mammogram but not in a thermogram.
  • Mammograms must squeeze the breast tissue but the scan picture is taken approximately four feet away (behind a privacy curtain).

Once the scan is taken, what is next?

All the scan pictures — usually five — along with the medical history is electronically sent to certified MDs to read the scans. The reports are returned within twenty four to forty eight hours. Complete reports and copies of the scans are then sent directly to the client in a confidential marked envelope.

How often do I need a breast scan?

After your initial breast scan, we suggest a second scan at three months to set a baseline. If there are no changes from the first scan to the second, then yearly scans are appropriate.

Does my breast tissue change?

Most definitely. Because pre-menopausal breast tissue is denser and more vascular than post-menopausal breast tissue, any pathology taking place will have a better vascular supply and there will be increased cell changes and faster development of pathology in younger women.

The disadvantage with mammography is that with radiographically dense breasts it is difficult to differentiate between normal and abnormal density (fibrocystic breast) in the early stages of pathology. (It may also be necessary to use more radiation to properly image dense breasts.)

Thermography is better suited to detect the physiological changes in the denser and more vascular pre-menopausal breast with positive findings months and sometimes years before the pathology becomes dense enough to be seen with mammography. Thermal studies improve the detection rates and accuracy of mammography.

How soon can a thermogram detect cancer cells?

Average growth rate of breast cancer tumor (cancer cells double in number on average every 90 days):

90 days – 2 cells

1 year – 16 cells

2 years – 256 cells

3 years – 4,096 cells

4 years – 65,536 cells

Still undetectable with mammography:

5 years – 1,048,576 cells

6 years – 16,777,216 cells

7 years – 268,435,456 cells

8 years – 4,294,967,296 cells (doubled 32 times and normally detected by mammogram at this stage, 1 cm size)

40 doublings (approximately 10 years) is generally considered lethal.

Screening thermography has the opportunity to detect changes at any stage in the development from the first year through to when a tumor is dense enough to be seen with mammography. This early detection of change can lead to earlier diagnosis and better treatment options, as well as the opportunity for patients and their health care practitioners to intervene at an early stage with preventative treatment.

Does health insurance cover the cost of thermography?

No, not in Wisconsin at this time. But you may use flexible spending dollars.


Christine Haase

Christine Haase has been a certified clinical thermographer (CCT), level I and level II, with the American College of Clinical Thermography (ACCT) since September 2012. She owns Valley Thermography, LLC, located at 1111 N. Lynndale Drive, Suite 202 in Appleton. Learn more about DITI and Valley Thermography by calling 920-380-1365 or visiting valleythermography.com.

Website: www.valleythermography.com

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