Mammography / Thermography / Ultrasound
What’s The Difference

The following graph outlines the differences between mammography, medical infrared imaging (thermography), and ultrasound. Medical infrared imaging detects surface heat as a byproduct of biochemical reactions. As such, the test adds valuable physiologic information that cannot be obtained from any other imaging procedure. Thermography is designed to be used as an adjunct (an additional test) to a woman’s regular breast health care.

Mammography

  • Structural imaging. Ability to locate the area of suspicious tissue.
  • Early detection method.
  • Findings increase suspicion.
    Cannot diagnose cancer.

    Uses X-rays to produce an image that is a shadow of dense structures.

  • Can detect tumors in the pre-invasive stage.
  • Average 80% Sensitivity (20% of cancers not detected), in women over age 50. Sensitivity decreases in women under age 50.
  • Large, dense, and fibrocystic breasts cause reading difficulties.
  • Hormone use decreases sensitivity.

Medical Infrared Imaging

  • Functional imaging. Detects physiologic changes. Cannot locate the exact area of suspicion inside the breast.
  • Early detection method. Used as an adjunctive imaging test.
  • Findings increase suspicion.
    Cannot diagnose cancer.

    Uses infrared sensors to detect heat and increased vascularity (angiogenesis) as the byproduct of biochemical reactions. The heat is compiled into an image for computerized analysis.

  • May provide the first signal that a problem is developing.
  • A positive infrared image represents the highest known risk factor for the existence of or future development of breast cancer – 10 times more significant than any family history of the disease.
  • Average 90% Sensitivity (10% of cancers not detected) in all age groups.
  • No known effect.
  • No effect.

Ultrasound

  • High frequency sound waves are bounced off the breast tissue and collected as an echo to produce an image.
  • Structural imaging. Ability to locate the area of suspicious tissue.
  • Lower spatial resolution (cannot see fine detail). Good at distinguishing solid masses from fluid filled cysts. Used as an adjunctive imaging test.
  • Findings increase suspicion.
    Cannot diagnose cancer.
  • Ability to detect some cancers not detected by mammography.
  • Average 83% Sensitivity (17% of cancers not detected) in all age groups.
  • No known effect.
  • No known effect.

A biopsy is the only test that can determine if a suspected tissue area is cancerous.

Sources:
Index Medicus – ACS, NEJM, JNCI, J Breast, J Radiology, J Clin Ultrasound
Index Medicus – Cancer, AJOG, Thermology
Text – Atlas of Mammography: New Early Signs in Breast Cancer
Text – Biomedical Thermology

Compliments of Pacific Chiropractic and Research Center, William Amalu, DC, DABCT.

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