Thermal imaging of breast tissue is for all women (and men) of all ages. When used in combination some studies have shown to be more effective than traditional breast cancer screening methods alone. It is suitable for women who have had implants and women who are pregnant since there is no radiation. 30-50 yr old women have denser breast tissue making mammography less effective, therefore thermal imaging for this age group is something to be considered.
DITI is suitable for women with implants or have painful breasts where mammography would be uncomfortable. See some examples of breast imaging below. In the instance where a women just does not want the mammogram, for whatever her personal reasons are- ultrasound is a great option that your NHS team will offer. Ultrasound and DITI are a great duo- and doing those, if you are not having the mammogram, has to be better than doing nothing. And dont forget monthly self checks.
DITI has the unique capability of imaging breast tissue without radiation. DITI for breast health is a physiological test over time. Your breasts have their own unique thermal pattern which rarely changes over time. Therefore the presence of abnormal thermal patterns may be suspicious and warrant clinical correlation.
Since DITI can image the neovascularity associated with tumour formation, it can is a valuable adjunct to breast cancer screening modalities like breast MRi, Ultrasound and mammography. DITI is not diagnostic for cancer. Since DITI visualises neovascularity, thermography does not rule out existing non-active or encapsulated tumors. Any new lump felt should always be investigated by your GP/Breast Health team.
Your first two sets of scans need to be performed ideally 3 months apart. This establishes a baseline for future annual scans to be compared with. In healthy breast tissue, your thermal pattern should remain stable. Tumours, infection, mastitis, inflammatory breast cancer and cysts will cause thermal patterns to change. The Thermologists take into account your breast history and produce a report which you can take to your GP if further clinical correlation is suggested due to abnormal findings.
Women with breast implants are well suited to DITI. Some women who have very painful fibrocystic breasts prefer DITI as their ideal screening tool since there is no body contact. Since DITI is radiation free, it is safe during pregnancy. It should be noted that due to the hormonal changes in breast tissue during pregnancy and breastfeeding, this is not an ideal time to establish your baseline and you should wait until 3 months after you have stopped breastfeeding. However, if you were unaware you were pregnant at the time of the scan, it is perfectly safe since we are using infrared technology.
Thermography does not replace mammography breast cancer screening since they are two different tools altogether. We do not discourage women from having mammograms, and offer thermography as an adjunct to mammography. In some cases abnormal thermal findings will be seen years before mammography can image the anatomical lump. Close monitoring in these cases is suggested. For women under 50 yrs, their dense breast tissue makes it harder for a mammogram to distinguish normal tissue from tumour, making DITI a great choice.
The above series of images shows a 37y/o patient whose first baseline thermogram showed a slight hyperthermic asymmetry (temperature difference) in the upper right breast. The follow-up study at three months showed the pattern had become more defined and although clinical correlation did not find anything remarkable it was decided to repeat the thermal exam again in a further 3 months, when again significant further changes were seen. Mammography was performed at this stage with the thermographic guidance of the locally suspicious area at 1 O’clock to the right nipple. The mammographic findings were inconclusive and the patient was referred for a repeat mammogram in 12 months.
Thermographic monitoring was continued and at the fifth comparative study at 12 months significant changes were still evident and the hyperthermic asymmetry had increased. Immediate further investigation was strongly recommended despite a scheduled mammogram in 6 months, and at the patients insistence a repeat mammogram was performed which clearly showed a small calcification (1 mm) at 1 O’clock. Within one week a lumpectomy had been performed with good margins and the pathology confirmed as a malignant carcinoma (DCIS).
This patient has now had stable thermograms for the last 2 years and is expected to remain healthy.
Although uncommon, the results of this routine study (above) led to the diagnosis of inflammatory carcinoma in the right breast although there were no clinical indications. Early indications of inflammatory breast disease are unlikely to be detected by mammography screening and is most commonly seen in younger (30-50).
This significant thermal asymmetry is caused by an early stage DCIS and was only just dense enough to be seen with thermography guided mammography. There was nothing palpable and this patient was 10 years away from her first routine mammogram.
DITI is especially appropriate for younger women between 30 & 50 whose denser breast tissue makes it more difficult for mammography to pick up suspicious lesions. This test can provide a 'clinical marker' to the doctor or mammographer that a specific area of the breast needs particularly close examination.
The very significant vascular activity in the left breast justified clinical correlation and close monitoring which returned an opinion of fibrocystic changes taking place. These changes can be monitored thermographically at regular intervals until a stable baseline is established and is reliable enough for annual comparison.
The increased vascular activity in both breasts is consistent with the hormonal changes in pregnancy. This patient was unaware that she was 4 weeks pregnant at the time of her scan.
The thermographer was an experienced operator who asked the patient… “your not pregnant are you ?” The patient was amused and said that she wasn’t but phoned the clinic a few days later to tell them the good news.
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