Calgary Thermography Differences

Mammography, Ultrasound, and Thermography: What are the Differences?

Source used for imaging

Mammography

  • Uses X-rays (radiation) to produce an image that is a shadow of dense structures
  • Contains radiation and is invasive
  • Potential disadvantage: suspicious areas need to be dense enough to be seen

Ultrasound

  • Uses high frequency sound waves
  • The images are analyzed for any abnormalities or concerns
  • Non-invasive and radiation-free

Calgary thermography

  • Uses infrared sensors to detect heat and increased blood flow (angiogenesis)
  • The heat images are analyzed for any abnormalities or concerns
  • Non-invasive and radiation-free

Type of imaging

Mammography

  • Anatomical (structural): Examines basis of changes caused by disease
  • Ability to locate the exact area of suspicion

Ultrasound

  • Anatomical (structural): Examines basis of changes caused by disease
  • Ability to locate the exact area of suspicion

Calgary thermography

  • Functional: Examines changes in metabolism, blood flow, regional chemical composition, and absorption
  • Cannot locate the exact area of suspicision

Detection method

Mammography

  • Early detection

Ultrasound

  • Early detection
  • Used as an adjunctive test. Cannot see fine detail; however, good at distinguishing solid masses from fluid-filled masses

Calgary thermography

  • Early detection
  • Used as an adjunctive imaging test

Cancer diagnosis

Mammography

  • Findings indicate increased suspicion
  • Biopsy is the only test that can determine if a suspected tissue area is cancerous
  • CANNOT DIAGNOSE CANCER

Ultrasound

  • Findings indicate increased suspicion
  • Biopsy is the only test that can determine if a suspected tissue area is cancerous
  • CANNOT DIAGNOSE CANCER

Calgary thermography

  • Findings indicate increased suspicion
  • Biopsy is the only test that can determine if a suspected tissue area is cancerous
  • CANNOT DIAGNOSE CANCER

What can the imaging test detect?

Mammography

  • May detect tumors in pre-invasive stage

Ultrasound

  • Ability to detect some cancers missed by mammography

Calgary thermography

  • May provide first signal that a problem is developing
  • Positive thermal imaging represents the highest known risk factor for potential development of breast cancer up to 10 times more significant than any family history

Detection rate

Sensitivity: The likeliness that a test will pick up the presence of disease in a person.

Mammography

  • Average sensitivity: 80 percent
  • 20 percent of cancers missed; women over age 50

Ultrasound

  • Average sensitivity: 83 percent
  • 17 percent of cancers missed; all age groups

Calgary thermography

  • Average sensitivity: 90 percent
  • 10 percent of cancers missed; all age groups

Factors that can affect the imaging test

Hormone use

Mammography

  • YES

Ultrasound

  • NO

Calgary thermography

  • NO

Large, dense, and fibrocystic breast, resulting in reading difficulties

Mammography

  • NO

Ultrasound

  • NO

Calgary thermography

  • NO

Peripheral areas next to chest wall and inframammary sulcus cannot be visualized; in most women

Mammography

  • YES

Ultrasound

  • NO

Calgary thermography

  • NO

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

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