Preparing for a Thermographic Study

Thermology is an evaluation of the levels, patterns and behavior of the skin’s temperature. To achieve a meaningful evaluation, you should avoid conditions that would cause artificial influences. Please fill out your patient history forms prior to your appointment and contact our office with any questions you might have that are not covered here.

Please follow these preparation instructions for your breast thermography screening:

  • You must wait at least three (3) months after breast surgery, including any biopsies, the completion of chemotherapy or radiation before a thermology examination.
  • You are asked to avoid any natural or artificial tanning of your chest for two-three (2-3) days prior to the study date.
  • You must not have had any fever within thirty-six (36) hours of the examination.
  • You must avoid ultrasound or mammogram or clinical physical examination of the breasts for at least three (3) days prior to the examination.
  • There should be no bruising, rashes, or skin irritation in the breast area on the day of the study.
  • You should refrain from hot yoga, sauna, steam-room, or hot/cold packs in contact with the breasts for at least twenty-four (24) hours.
  • With your doctor’s permission, avoid use of the following medications for twelve (12) hours prior to the examination: Nitroglycerin, Niacin, Niacin patch, or any migraine medications (500 milligrams or more).
  • You are asked to refrain from exercise, bathing, or showering for one hour prior to examination.
  • Please refrain from using deodorants, creams, powders or lotions that may cause an inflammation in the breast area on the day of the study.
  • You are asked to refrain from any tobacco use, or the consumption of caffeinated coffee, tea or any other caffeinated products for two (2) hours prior to the examination.
  • If you currently are using a nicotine patch or any gum containing nicotine please call our office for further instructions.
  • If you are exposed to outside environmental extremes, such as very cold or warm temperatures, you should acclimate in a comfortable room temperature for approximately fifteen-twenty (15-20) minutes prior to the equilibration process.
  • If you are breastfeeding, please empty the breasts 30-60 minutes before the appointment.
  • Please refrain from bring in any beverages in with you on the date of your appointment.For your comfort, we recommend that you wear a pull over or button down shirt.

About Thermology Reports
The thermology reports are necessarily technical and written with specialized terms in order to convey precise information to health care professionals. Every physician should be able to understand these terms and derive the full meaning of your report even if they are not familiar with breast thermology. We encourage health care professionals to read the PROFESSIONALS section of this website for further information and speak with our staff (CONTACT US) with any questions. As a laboratory, Therma-Scan can not directly consult with you as a patient and provide you any medical directions or information outside of what is contained in your actual breast thermology report. There is no substitute for value you will receive by a direct consultation with your personal health care professional in reviewing the results of your breast thermology study. We believe knowledge empowers you as an active partner in the management of your own health care and enables you to make the best choices. We provide this information to help you understand your own thermology report but not as a substitute for consultation with your personal health care professional.
Medical infrared imaging is the process of obtaining highly detailed and sensitive infrared images of the human body. The word thermologyinvolves the diagnostic analysis of those images by a Board-Certified medical specialist using a scientific method.

  • Thermology is accepted by the US Dept of Health and Human Services as an adjunctive diagnostic procedure for breast disease.
  • Thermology is derived from more than fifty (50) years of extensive clinical development and has a sound basis in medical science.
  • Thermology evaluates tissue function and is distinctly different from structure-based diagnostic methods, such as X-ray mammography, MRI and ultrasound.

Thermology does not replace these other diagnostic methods but rather they add to thermology’s diagnostic value and complement it as part of a comprehensive program. Breast thermology is particularly effective in instances where X-ray mammography is compromised; such as in women who are not menopausal, have used hormone replacement therapy (HRT), have glandular or dense breasts, have fibrocystic disease, had prior biopsies, have implants or surgical reductions, are pregnant, are lactating or have small or large breasts. Breast thermology has a very high (approximately 97%) sensitivity identifying the specific tissue features associated with breast cancer. A normal thermology report does not eliminate all possibility of breast cancer and atypical or abnormal results of other means of evaluation should not be disregarded.

The diagnostic power of thermology can be diminished by tissue inflammation, infection or hormone imbalances. The presence of these conditions can cause false-positive findings, especially on initial studies of an individual. Over time and with repeated studies, thermology can usually distinguish non-cancerous conditions from evolving breast cancer. A questionable thermology feature will resolve, demonstrate stability or evolve to reveal thermology features distinctive of breast cancer. False-negative errors are rare and usually a consequence of a latent (resting, non-active) stage in the development of breast cancer. The internationally standardized thermology classification (Marseille System) defines five (5) conventional and distinct reporting categories, ranging from TH-1 (normal) through TH-5 (severely abnormal) and two (2) specialized reporting categories; TH-0 (incomplete or technically defective) and TH-6 (evaluating thermology features in cases of biopsy-proven cancer).

These numbers DONOT relate to the classification system used to stage breast cancer.

Thermology Classifications

(Marseille System)

Q. TH-1 or TH-1F Results

A.

TH-1 defines a normal thermogram: a thermal profile of the breasts that do not show any of the thermology features associated with risk for breast cancer. If some distinct low-energy patterns are present, this will change the classification to a TH-1F. These patterns are associated with established benign (non-cancerous) cysts and/or fibro-adenomas. These conditions often have symptoms of premenstrual tenderness, ‘lumpy’ texture, masses and even pain. We recommend that you consult with a qualified health care professional for these conditions. We also recommend that you have an annual thermology restudy for comparison. In some cases more frequent restudies may be indicated by your health practitioner. Be sure to ask for their recommendation on restudy frequency. Your physician may learn more about breast thermology by visiting the PROFESSIONALS section of this website or calling our office to speak with our expert staff. A normal thermology study should not be interpreted to mean that you should forego other means of routine evaluation or disregard any concerning physical symptoms.

Q. TH-1L or TH-1M Results

A.

TH-1L or TH-1M defines a qualified normal thermology profile of that does not demonstrate any unusual tissue processes or blood vessels consistent with persistent or reoccurring breast cancer. The ‘L’ designates Lumpectomy and ‘M’ designates Mastectomy. Surgical procedures typically produce significant swelling, nerve and blood vessel damage as well as altered tissue metabolism that may limit the diagnostic value of thermology at least three (3) months. Radiation treatments may affect the thermology features and diminish its diagnostic value much longer. However, repeat studies on a schedule specified in your own report, will compare the initial and subsequent thermology features over time and provide a useful means of monitoring the post-surgical woman for changes indicative of persistent or recurrent breast cancer. Please be sure to discuss your thermology report with your personal health care professional and develop a going-forward plan for monitoring your breast health that utilizes clinical examination and several forms of objective testing. Your physician may learn more about breast thermology by visiting the PROFESSIONALS section of this website or calling our office to speak with our expert staff. A normal thermology study should not be interpreted to mean that you should forego other means of routine evaluation or disregard any concerning physical symptoms.

Ongoing vigilance is an essential part of your overall health plan including:

  • Consult with your personal physician and obtain a physical examination of your breasts.
  • Consult with your personal physician and together determine a plan for going-forward objective testing, such as to include targeted ultrasound examination, MRI and/or X-ray mammography.
  • Schedule a thermology restudy according to the schedule recommended in your thermology report.

Q. TH-2 or TH-2F Results

A.

TH-2 defines a qualified normal result with thermal profile of breast features that are essentially uniform, regularly patterned and moderately large blood vessels. These thermal features are frequently associated with benign (non-cancerous) functional changes such as pregnancy, lactation or hormone imbalances, particularly estrogen-dominant imbalances, that affect the glandular breast tissue. The TH-2 score does not indicate breast cancer but it does rule-out all possibility of breast cancer. A classification of TH-2F indicates that distinct, low-energy (cold) patterns were identified in your analysis that are associated with benign cystic and/or fibro-adenomas. These conditions often produce symptoms of premenstrual tenderness or swelling, ‘lumpy’ texture, feeling of excessive heaviness in the breast tissue and even breast pain. We recommend that you consult your personal physician to assess the health of your breasts and get treatment for any adverse or uncomfortable conditions. We also recommend an annual thermology restudy to compare and monitor changes in the health of your breasts. In some cases, more frequent restudies may be indicated by your personal physician. Be sure to ask for their recommendation on restudy frequency. A TH-2 thermology score should not be interpreted to mean that you should forego other means of routine evaluation or disregard any concerning physical symptoms.

Ongoing breast care is a valuable part of your overall health plan and should include review of your breast thermology results with your personal physician. Your physician may learn more about breast thermology by visiting the PROFESSIONALS section of this website or calling our office to speak with our expert staff.

Q. TH-3 Results

A.

TH-3 defines a profile of unusual breast tissue processes and/or blood vessels. The TH-3 category is indicates a single unusual thermology feature (sign) that is associated with a minor or equivocal (less than 10% to 20% as specified in your own report) risk for a diagnosis of breast cancer. It is more likely that these features represent benign (non-cancerous) changes such as inflammation, acute cysts and/or fibro-adenoma development, infection or a personal characteristic, especially on an initial study. A thermologyrestudy, as specified in your own report, provides the data necessary to compare and assess changes in the specific unusual feature. This comparison usually enables the differentiation of benign conditions from breast cancer. Please be sure to review your thermology report with your personal physician and discuss a prudent course of action. Depending on familial or personal risk factors, physical examination and intangible concerns; that course of action may range from watchful waiting to prompt additional testing with other methods of evaluation. A personal commitment to a long-term vigilant follow-up is necessary as an unusual thermology feature can precede abnormal results from other means of testing by 5-8 years. Clinical experience has determined that targeted ultrasound is the most effective means of follow-up to an unusual thermology study. Your physician may learn more about breast thermology by visiting the PROFESSIONALS section of this website or calling our office to speak with our expert staff.

Ongoing breast care is an essential part of your overall health plan including:

  • Consult with your personal physician and obtain a physical examination of your breasts.
  • Consult with your personal physician and together determine a plan for comprehensive evaluation, such as to include targeted ultrasound examination, MRI and/or X-ray mammography.
  • Schedule a thermology restudy according to the schedule recommended in your thermology report.

Q. TH-3L or TH-3M Results

A.

TH-3L or TH-3M defines a thermology profile of unusual tissue processes and/or blood vessels that are consistent with but not indicative of persistent or reoccurring breast cancer. The ‘L’ designates Lumpectomy and ‘M’ designates Mastectomy. Surgical procedures typically produce significant swelling, nerve and blood vessel damage as well as altered tissue metabolism that will greatly alter the thermology features and substantially limit its value at least three (3) months. Radiation treatments typically cause another type of blood vessel and nerve damage as well as altered tissue metabolism that will affect the thermology features and diminish its value much longer. However, repeat studies on a schedule specified in your own report, will compare the initial and subsequent thermology features over time and provide a useful means of monitoring the post-surgical woman for changes indicative of persistent or recurrent breast cancer, especially in the underarm areas. It is most likely that unusual thermology features that do not change over time represent benign (non-cancerous) conditions that are a consequence of the surgical procedure(s) or radiation treatments. Please be sure to review your thermology report with your personal physician and discuss a prudent course of action. Depending on familial or personal risk factors, clinical examination and intangible concerns; that course of action may range from watchful waiting to prompt additional studies with other methods of evaluation. Clinical experience has determined that targeted ultrasound is the single most effective means of follow-up to an atypical thermology study. Your physician may learn more about breast thermology by visiting the PROFESSIONALS section of this website or calling our office to speak with our expert staff.

Ongoing breast care is an essential part of your overall health plan including:

  • Consult with your personal physician and obtain a physical examination of your breasts.
  • Consult with your personal physician and together determine a plan for comprehensive evaluation, such as to include targeted ultrasound examination, MRI and/or X-ray mammography.
  • Schedule a thermology restudy according to the schedule recommended in your thermology report.

Q. TH-4 Results

A.

TH-4 or TH-4S defines an abnormal thermology study that is of probable (definition: more likely than not) risk for breast cancer. This result is not a diagnosis of breast cancer, but rather should be regarded as a specific indication of characteristic blood vessel features and/or metabolic conditions are present that are consistent with breast cancer. It is possible, but unlikely, that non-cancerous conditions or individual characteristics are the basis for this result, especially on an initial study. Above all, this result means you need to consult with your personal physician and obtain prompt and comprehensive testing for breast cancer. We urge your physician to examine you for a mass or abnormal skin changes and refer you for targeted ultrasound, MRI and/or X-ray mammography, keeping in mind that a positive thermogram can precede positive results from other objective testing by 5-8 years. We recommend athermology restudy, on a schedule specified in your own report, as an important part of a comprehensive testing panel. Your physician may learn more about breast thermology by visiting the PROFESSIONALS section of this website or calling our office to speak with our expert staff.

Ongoing breast care is an essential part of your overall health plan including:

  • Consult with your personal physician and obtain a physical examination of your breasts.
  • Consult with your personal physician with the intention of comprehensive testing of your breasts.
  • Schedule a thermology restudy according to the schedule recommended in your thermology report.

Q. TH-4L or TH-4M Results

A.

TH-4L or TH-4M defines thermology features of abnormal tissue processes and/or blood vessels that are consistent with but not indicative of persistent or reoccurring breast cancer. The ‘L’ designates Lumpectomy and ‘M’ designates Mastectomy. Surgical procedures typically produce significant swelling, nerve and blood vessel damage as well as altered tissue metabolism that will diminish the diagnostic power of thermology features at least three (3) months. Radiation treatments typically cause another type of blood vessel and nerve damage as well as altered tissue metabolism that will diminish the diagnostic power of thermology much longer. However, repeat thermology studies on a schedule specified in your own report will compare the initial and subsequent thermology features over time and provide a useful means of monitoring the post-surgical woman for changes indicative of persistent or recurrent breast cancer, especially in the underarm areas. It is possible the abnormal thermology features reflect changes in the tissues consequence of surgical procedure(s) and/or radiation treatments, especially those that don’t change over time, represent benign (non-cancerous) conditions. However, the abnormal results of your study indicate the need for appropriate and timely follow-up with your personal physician, a review of the results of your thermology study and develop a plan of further evaluation. This plan should include close clinical evaluation and other objective means of testing, such as blood markers, ultrasound, X-ray mammography and MRI. Your physician may learn more about breast thermology by visiting the PROFESSIONALS section of this website or calling our office to speak with our expert staff.

Ongoing breast care is an essential part of your overall health plan including:

  • Consult with your personal physician and obtain a physical examination of your breasts.
  • Consult with your personal physician and together determine a plan for comprehensive evaluation, such as to include targeted ultrasound examination, MRI and/or X-ray mammography.
  • Schedule a thermology restudy according to the schedule recommended in your thermology report.

Q. TH-5 Results

A.

TH-5 defines a highly abnormal thermogram that is associated with a very high risk of breast cancer. This result is not a diagnosis of breast cancer but rather should be regarded as a strong and specific indication that characteristic blood vessel features and/or metabolic conditions are present that are consistent with breast cancer. It is possible, especially on an initial study but very unlikely, that non-cancerous conditions or individual characteristics are the basis for this result. Above all, this result means you need to consult with your personal physician and obtain comprehensive evaluation for breast cancer as soon as possible. We urge your physician to examine you for masses or abnormal skin changes and promptly refer you for targeted ultrasound, MRI and/or X-ray mammography, keeping in mind that a positive thermogram can precede positive results from other objective testing by 5-8 years. We also recommend athermology restudy on a schedule specified in your own report, as an important part of a comprehensive testing panel. Your physician may learn more about breast thermology by visiting the PROFESSIONALS section of this website or calling our office to speak with our expert staff.

Ongoing breast care is an essential part of your overall health plan including:

  • Consult with your personal physician and obtain a physical examination of your breasts.
  • Consult with your personal physician with the intention of comprehensive testing of your breasts.
  • Schedule a thermology restudy in according to the schedule recommended in your thermology report.

Q. TH-6 Results

A.

The category of TH-6 is a specialized classification applied to thermology in a non-screening and non-diagnostic role, specifically when breast cancer has already been established by tissue biopsy and no conventional form of treatment has been applied. The TH-6 parallels the BI-RADS® (Breast Imaging-Reporting And Data System developed by the American College of Radiology) category 6 LOS (Level of Suspicion).

TH-6 grading does not exceed a TH-5 in severity. The images are still analyzed and graded using the standardized Marseille System of Thermology Signs and Criteria and the Data and Impression and Discussion portions of your report will read as such. However, your report will not provide any risk assessment as breast cancer has already been established by the final diagnostic arbiter; a tissue biopsy. Frequently, the TH-6 report will be qualified by the potential artifacts of biopsy; tissue inflammation, regional swelling and disruptions to the local blood vessels and nerve network if the thermology study is performed within three (3) months of the biopsy. The clinical rationale of a thermology study after breast cancer has been established is to evaluate the effectiveness of newer and non-traditional means of treatment for breast cancer, such as adjunctive (targeted) chemotherapy and cryo-ablation. The best value of the first post-biopsy thermology study is as a baseline for the comparative analysis of future studies, done as indicated by the treatment program. Of course the opposite-side breast, presumably not diagnosed with breast cancer, will be evaluated on the TH-0 to TH-5 risk scale based upon prima facie analysis of thermology features. Your physician may learn more about breast thermology by visiting the PROFESSIONALS section of this website or calling our office to speak with our expert staff.

Ongoing breast care is an essential part of your overall health plan including:

  • Consult with your personal physician with the intention of comprehensive testing of your breasts.
  • Schedule a thermology restudy according to the schedule recommended by your physician to provide feedback on your treatment program.

BI-RADS® is a registered trademark of the The American College of Radiology

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