Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings San Diego

THERMOGRAPHY: A Gentle Ounce of Prevention: The Non-Invasive Technique is a Vital Tool for Breast Health

Apr 26, 2011 02:13PM ● By Linda Sechrist

With the incidence of breast cancer on the rise and prevention now considered more valuable than cure, women are beginning to educate themselves on the option of including a thermogram in their annual check-up. This tool for risk assessment, which was FDA approved in 1982 as an adjunct to mammography, measures thermal emissions emanating from the body, a key indicator of health.

Thermography, which utilizes an infrared camera to take images of the breasts without radiation, detects physiological changes in the tissue that have been shown to correlate with cancerous and, more importantly, pre-cancerous states.

A Powerful Tool for Detection

“It is widely acknowledged that cancers, even in their earliest stages, need nutrients to maintain or accelerate their growth,” says Medical Thermologist Philip Getson, a doctor of osteopathic medicine. “In order to facilitate this process, blood vessels remain open; inactive blood vessels are activated and new ones are formed, a process known as neoangiogenesis. This vascular process causes an increase in surface temperature in the affected regions, which can be viewed with infrared imaging cameras.” Getson adds that newly formed or activated blood vessels have a distinct appearance that thermography can detect.

Getson also advises that it is well documented in medicine that changes in physiology can occur seven to 10 years before anatomic ones. This means that women (and men) have the opportunity to make proactive changes in lifestyle, diet, nutrition and vitamin and mineral supplementation that can forestall or even prevent the formation of tumors.

“Thermography is a key to prevention, and I would rather focus on how I can help a patient to make diet and lifestyle changes that can prevent the formation of tumors, or at least minimize cancer’s effect on the body,” advises Getson.

Pain-free, with No Risk of Radiation

Lisa Kalison, owner of Discovery Screening, thoroughly agrees with Getson’s view of thermography as a significant measure of prevention. “I am a proponent of thermography, not only because it does not involve painful compression of breast tissue, which can lead to a lethal spread of cancerous cells should they exist, but more importantly because it does not radiate the breasts,” she emphasizes. “Numerous worldwide expert studies have reported the radiation used in mammograms can be 1,000 times greater than that from chest X-rays, increasing the risk of breast cancer up to 5 percent cumulatively each time.”

In an April 2010 Huffington Post article, best-selling author Dr. Christiane Northrup, a board certified obstetrician and gynecologist, noted, “It’s ironic that the test women are using for prevention may be causing the very problem they’re trying to avoid in the first place!” The reason she cited for the United States Preventive Services Task Force reversal of its aggressive mammogram guidelines was the exposure to radiation. “It’s well known that excessive doses of radiation can increase your risk for cancer, and this doesn’t even touch on the harm done to the body from unnecessary biopsies, lumpectomies, mastectomies, chemotherapy, radiation treatment and so forth,” says Northrup.

Helpful for All Women

Kalison points out that in the last 30 years, there have been more than 800 reported peer-reviewed studies on thermography, with more than 300,000 women evaluated. Some of these studies, which have followed women over a 12-year period, conclude that breast thermography has been shown to be the single most important marker for detecting the development of breast cancer and that it is eight times more significant than family history. Additionally, a thermogram has a 92 to 97 percent detection rate and when used as part of a multi-modal approach that includes breast examination and anatomic testing, it’s even more effective.

Thermography is particularly valuable because it can be performed safely at age 20, detecting early-stage breast cancers before they develop. “We are not looking for cancer like traditional medicine does,” says Kalison, “We’re looking for indicators that can alert us that there is inflammation in the tissue, before it becomes cancerous.”

“For monitoring breast health, thermography is beneficial to all women,” says Kalison, “especially where mammograms are contraindicated: for women as young as their teen years, for the earliest possible baseline; for women with breast implants, reconstruction, or mastectomies; and for women who are pregnant or nursing. And, when there is increased risk, like family history, BRCA gene-positive, or the fear of recurrence, thermography doesn’t add to the risk, but can bring peace of mind and earlier intervention, years before an anatomical device can see cancer in its already advanced stages.”

It is clear that with the changing face of medicine and the ever-increasing movement toward prevention, women who add thermography to their annual self-care checklist can count on a gentle ounce of prevention that far outweighs any pound of cure.


Lisa Kalison, Discovery Screening, 760-436-8811. Visit DiscoveryScreening.com.