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Canadian Cancer Society's perspective on thermography

07 December 2016

Some businesses and private clinics promote the use of thermography as a way to screen women under the age of 50 for breast cancer.  

Our perspective

The Canadian Cancer Society believes that current evidence doesn’t show that thermography is an effective tool to detect breast cancer and therefore, we do not recommend thermography as a screening tool for breast cancer. 

Background

Thermography, also known as digital infrared thermal imaging, is a non-invasive test that uses an infrared camera to produce images (thermograms) that record temperature and blood vessel patterns. Thermography is based on the idea that the temperature of abnormal cells is higher than normal breast tissue due to increased blood flow.

Supporters of thermography argue that because this tool doesn’t use radiation, it is safer than mammography. Although mammograms do result in some exposure to medical radiation, it is minimal and the benefits of regular screening by mammogram far outweigh the risk of the radiation exposure. Current high-quality research hasn’t shown that thermography is an effective tool to detect breast cancer early and doesn’t suggest that thermography should replace mammography.

The Society is concerned about thermography testing because:

  • When businesses and private clinics promote it as an effective screening test for breast cancer, this creates a confusing message for women. 
  • Women who have the test may have a false sense of security about their breast health. 
The Canadian Cancer Society is committed to sharing important information about breast screening with Canadian women. We will continue to closely monitor research findings about breast cancer screening and will update our screening recommendations if needed. The most reliable way of finding breast cancer early is screening mammography. Learn more about the Canadian Cancer Society’s breast cancer screening recommendations.