Can women in Pittsburgh rely on thermography?

As many Pittsburgh residents know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Most women over the age of 40 know that it’s important to get a mammogram. But, recently a new type of screening has emerged that has doctors worried, thermography. Is thermography a substitute for a mammogram or does it lead to a failure to diagnose cancer?

Almost every woman over 40 will have a mammogram. Women find these screenings for breast cancer uncomfortable and the test is often dreaded. Recently another test has been popping up in cities across the U.S. claiming to be able to detect breast cancer before a mammogram can detect it. Thermography uses an infrared camera to investigate heat and blood flow. By looking for active blood vessel activity, thermographers believe they can spot aggressive forms of breast cancer.

Health experts are worried that women will use thermography to detect breast cancer and forgo the mammogram. The FDA has issued a warning to women and health care providers that thermography should not replace a mammogram. The FDA, American College of Radiology and American Cancer Society also believe that thermography is not a useful tool to detect breast cancer. The American Cancer Society stated that thermography was only able to detect one out of four breast cancers that were found by mammography.

Women who are in need of a mammogram should be aware of thermography and its drawbacks. If women would like to have a thermography screening it should be done in combination with a mammogram. Any kind of delayed treatment for breast cancer can be devastating so it is important for women to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of all tests.

Source:, ” ‘Misleading’ ad raises questions about upcoming breast cancer screening“, Nate Morabito, Oct. 27, 2014