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Infrared Imaging of the Breast — An Overview
Over 40 years of research and 800 indexed papers encompassing well over 300,000 women participants has demonstrated infrared imaging’s abilities in the early detection of breast cancer. Infrared imaging has distinguished itself as the earliest detection technology for breast cancer. It has the ability to signal an alarm that a cancer may be forming up to 10 years before any other procedure can detect it.
In 7 out of 10 cases, infrared imaging will detect signs of a cancer before it is seen on a mammogram. Clinical trials have also shown that infrared imaging significantly augments the long-term survival rates of its recipients by as much as 61%. And when used as part of a multimodal approach (clinical examination, mammography, and infrared imaging) 95% of all early stage cancers will be detected. Ongoing research into the thermal characteristics of breast pathologies will continue to investigate the relationships between neoangiogenesis, chemical mediators, and the neoplastic process.
It is unfortunate, but many clinicians still hesitate to consider infrared imaging as a useful tool in spite of the considerable research database, steady improvements in both infrared technology and image analysis, and continued efforts on the part of the infrared imaging societies. This attitude may be due in part to the average clinician’s unfamiliarity with the physical and biological basis of infrared imaging. The other methods of cancer investigations refer directly to topics of medical teaching. For instance, radiography and ultrasonography refer to structural anatomy. Infrared imaging, however, is based on thermodynamics and thermokinetics, which are unfamiliar to most clinicians; though man is experiencing heat production and exchange in every situation he undergoes or creates.
Considering the contribution that infrared imaging has demonstrated thus far in the field of early breast cancer detection, all possibilities should be considered for promoting further technical, biological, and clinical research along with the incorporation of the technology into common clinical use.
• In 1982, the FDA approved breast thermography as an adjunctive breast cancer screening procedure.
• Breast thermography has undergone extensive research since the late 1950's.
• The numbers of participants in many studies are very large -- 10K, 37K, 60K, 85K
• Some of these studies have followed patients up to 12 years.
• Strict standardized interpretation protocols have been established for over 15 years.
• Breast thermography has an average sensitivity and specificity of 90%.
• An abnormal thermogram is 10 times more significant as a future risk indicator for breast cancer than a first order family history of the disease.
• A persistent abnormal thermogram caries with it a 22x higher risk of future breast cancer.
• An abnormal infrared image is the single most important marker of high risk for developing breast cancer.
• Breast thermography has the ability to detect the first signs that a cancer may be forming up to 10 years before any other procedure can detect it.
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