The following graph outlines the differences between mammography, medical infrared imaging (thermography), and ultrasound. Medical infrared imaging detects surface heat as a byproduct of biochemical reactions. As such, the test adds valuable physiologic information that cannot be obtained from any other imaging procedure. Thermography is designed to be used as an adjunct (an additional test) to a woman's regular breast health care.


Mammography
Medical Infrared Imaging
Ultrasound
Uses X-rays to produce an image that is a shadow of dense structures. Uses infrared sensors to detect heat and increased vascularity (angiogenesis) as the byproduct of biochemical reactions. The heat is compiled into an image for computerized analysis.
High frequency sound waves are bounced off the breast tissue and collected as an echo to produce an image.
Structural imaging. Ability to locate the area of suspicious tissue. Functional imaging. Detects physiologic changes. Cannot locate the exact area of suspicion inside the breast. Structural imaging. Ability to locate the area of suspicious tissue.
Early detection method. Early detection method. Used as an adjunctive imaging test. Lower spatial resolution (cannot see fine detail). Good at distinguishing solid masses from fluid filled cysts. Used as an adjunctive imaging test.
Findings increase suspicion.
Cannot diagnose cancer.
Findings increase suspicion.
Cannot diagnose cancer.
Findings increase suspicion.
Cannot diagnose cancer.
A biopsy is the only test that can determine if a suspected tissue area is cancerous.
Can detect tumors in the pre-invasive stage. May provide the first signal that a problem is developing. Ability to detect some cancers not detected by mammography.
  
A positive infrared image represents the highest known risk factor for the existence of or future development of breast cancer – 10 times more significant than any family history of the disease.
  
Average 80% Sensitivity (20% of cancers not detected), in women over age 50. Sensitivity decreases in women under age 50. Average 90% Sensitivity (10% of cancers not detected) in all age groups.
Average 83% Sensitivity (17% of cancers not detected) in all age groups.
Hormone use decreases sensitivity. No known effect. No known effect.
Large, dense, and fibrocystic breasts cause reading difficulties. No effect. No known effect.
Sources:
Index Medicus – ACS, NEJM, JNCI, J Breast, J Radiology, J Clin Ultrasound
Index Medicus – Cancer, AJOG, Thermology
Text – Atlas of Mammography: New Early Signs in Breast Cancer
Text – Biomedical Thermology


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