Breast Cancer Thermography Diagnosis: How Does It Work?

In this video Dr. Jay K. Harness explains thermography technology  for breast cancer diagnosis, and discusses why it’s not an optimal way to diagnose breast cancer. Learn more about thermography diagnosis in this video.

Jay K. Harness, MD, FACS: Over the years, we have been looking for multiple different technologies that can detect breast cancer early on. One of the older technologies is a thermography — increased temperature in the breast because of the cancer.

Well, what’s the idea of how that works? Well, we know that the growth of cancer stimulates the growth of new blood vessels around the cancer. That process is called angiogenesis.

So, if you have more blood flowing to an area, sort of like coils through your radiator, if you will, you are going to have more heat in that area and therefore, if you’ve got more heat, can we have a technology that can detect that increased heat and therefore detects the cancer early?

In my experience, the thermography is an old technology. It has not been shown by several different trials that I am familiar with, to really be worthwhile in any way. Typically, if there’s that much heat being generated in the breast, the cancer, more likely than not, is palpable, and we know that we have had a decreased mortality from breast cancer in this country because we are detecting breast cancers before they are palpable.

So, the technology is not worth pursuing anymore. Could there be some advances in the technology? Could it be refined better? There’s research being done with nearing for red light imaging of the breast that I think has some great promise, but thermography as it has been constituted in the past, I am not supporting and do not think as a worthwhile way of screening for breast cancer.

Dr. Jay K. Harness is a board certified surgeon currently treating patients at St. Joesph Hospital in Orange, CA. Dr. Harness specializes in complete breast health, breast cancer surgery, oncoplastic reconstruction, genetic screening, management of breast health issues, risk assessment and counseling. Dr. Harness is the medical director for Breast Cancer Answers.com, and guides this first ever social media show’s information by drawing on his former leadership experience as the President of the American Society of Breast Surgeons and Breast Surgery International. Dr. Harness graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1969 and spent time early on in his career at the University of Michigan Medical Center.

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