The Disadvantages of Breast Thermography

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The Disadvantages of Breast Thermography
Early detection of breast cancer is the most effective way to cure the disease. (bre image by robert mobley from Fotolia.com)

Breast thermography is a medical detection system that uses infrared imaging to look for signs of breast cancer. Cancer cells produce more heat than normal tissue cells, and thermography picks up and identifies this heat during a scan. About 15 per cent of all breast cancers occur in women who are less than 45 years old, which means it is important to screen patients earlier rather than later. More importantly, if breast cancer is detected in its earliest stage, 95 per cent cure rates are possible, states Breast Thermography.com. While often providing an early form of detection for cancer, breast thermography also has a few disadvantages.

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Not Effective for Slow-Growing Tumors

One of the major issues with breast thermography technology has been its inconsistent reading of slow-growing tumours. The technology relies on heat signals given off by the cancer cells to detect the presence of cancer. If the cancer cells develop slowly and produce little heat, then the breast thermography technology has a hard time identifying the presence of the cancer cells.

Does Not Detect Anatomy

While breast thermography is capable of detecting a heat signature of cancerous cells, it is unable to display the size of the actual tumour accurately. Instead, you need to perform a separate diagnostic test using a mammogram. The main benefits are with early detection, however, after the cancer has been detected, it is much more beneficial to use mammography as a means of detecting the physical size and growth of the tumour. For this reason, most breast thermography diagnostic testing is used in conjunction with mammography testing to provide the patient with a more comprehensive understanding of the tumour.

False Positives

A serious disadvantage of breast thermography technology has been the "false positive" results that often occur. This term refers to the detection of suspected cancer cells in the breast tissue through breast thermography, but the inability of other diagnostic tools, like mammograms to confirm the results. This outcome is confusing for patients who are left questioning the technology and, more importantly, the next course of action.

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