Thermography, also called thermal imaging, uses a special camera to measure the temperature of the skin on the breast’s surface. It is non-invasive test that involves no radiation.
Thermography is based on two ideas:
- Because cancer cells are growing and multiplying very fast, blood flow and metabolism are higher in a cancer tumor.
- As blood flow and metabolism increase, skin temperature goes up.
Thermography has been available for several decades, but no study has shown that it’s a good screening tool to detect breast cancer early, when the cancer is most treatable. The American Cancer Society does not recommend thermography as a replacement for mammograms. Thermography may be used to supplement information from a mammogram and help identify cancers that are close to the skin. Still, thermography can't find cancers that are deeper in the breast and it can't detect small cancers.
Researchers are developing and testing new versions of thermography that someday may improve the test’s accuracy and usefulness.