Breast Thermography FAQ

Q. How do I apply for the Free Breast Screening Program, and who qualifies?

A. The Free Breast Screening Program is sponsored by  the United Breast Cancer Foundation, and aims to provide free or low-cost breast screenings to women who need financial assistance.   Most women who apply get some or all of their thermography screenin g covered.  The amount  of funding provided depends on household income & number of dependents. It’s a very simple survey  to fill out, and patients typically receive an answer within 2 days.  If you are approved for partial or full funding, we will  bill the United Breast Cancer Foundation, and you will only be responsible for the remaining balance.  The foundation will pay for up to $300/year  which is enough  to cover  the two thermography screenings (per year) needed to establish your baseline.

Q.  Does this mean I don’t need to have mammograms anymore?

A. Women between 25-50 should have thermography done in addition to breast self-exams and annual physicals. Thermography is particularly indicated for these younger women  with denser breast tissue (more difficult for mammograms to detect), women with implants, or for women who cannot tolerate radiation or mammograms for a number of reasons . Thermography and mammograms provide different information about the health of your breasts, therefore the current recommendation is that women over 50 years of age have thermography done in addition to their mammogram for the best prevention possible. Remember, thermography looks at function (physiology) and mamograms look at structure (anatomy). By having mammograms as your only screening method, some cancers may be missed or found at a later stage.

Q. Will my insurance pay for this?

A. There are some insurance companies who will reimburse for the scan, but not all. We recommend that patients contact their insurance providers to ask if they will reimburse for “Temperature Gradient Studies”.  Please call us for the CPT code if your insurance company requires it. We provide each patient with the necessary paperwork to submit to their insurance companies. We accept cash, checks, Visa, Mastercard, and AMEX. Payment is due at the time of service.

Q. How does thermography work?

A. Thermography is a non-invasive diagnostic technique that converts infrared radiation emitted from the skin surface into electrical impulses that are visualized in color. The spectrum of colors indicate an increase or decrease in the amount of infrared radiation being emitted from the body surface. Medical Thermography can graphically display and record the subjective feeling of pain by objectively displaying the changes in skin surface temperature that are produced by pain states. Medical Thermography’s major clinical value is in its high sensitivity to pathology in the vascular, muscular, neural and skeletal systems and as such can contribute to a diagnosis by the clinician.

Skin blood flow is under the control of the sympathetic nervous system. In normal people there is a symmetrical skin (dermal) pattern which is consistent and reproducible for any individual, like a “thermal fingerprint” that should not change over time. This “fingerprint” is recorded in precise detail with a temperature sensitivity of 0.01°C by our medical thermography camera. Pathology is discovered when a person’s “thermal fingerprint” changes over time, often detected through follow-up thermography scans.

Q. Who certifies thermographers?

A. Thermography technicians are trained and certified by the American College of Clinical Thermology at Duke University. The American College of Clinical Thermology is an accredited medical association.

Q. Who reads the images and reports?

A. Images are sent to an interpretation service who employ medical doctors who are all board certified as thermologists by the American College of Clinical Thermology at Duke University. These doctors have many years experience and are able to ask for second opinions whenever necessary.

Q. How quickly will I get my report back?

A. Reports are normally ready within 48 hours, but please allow 1 week for your results to be mailed. You may collect your report when it is ready or allow for mailing time. If you need your report within 24 hours you can pay an ‘urgent’ fee.

Q. Why do I need to come back in three months for another breast study?

A. The most accurate result we can produce is change over time. Before we can start to evaluate any changes, we need to establish an accurate and stable baseline for you. This baseline represents your unique thermal fingerprint, which will only be altered by developing pathology. A baseline cannot be established with only one study, as we would have no way of knowing if this is your normal pattern or if it is actually changing at the time of the first exam. By comparing two studies three months apart we are able to judge if your breast physiology is stable and suitable to be used as your normal baseline and safe for continued annual screening.

The reason a three-month interval is used relates to the period of time it takes for blood vessels to show change. A period of time less than three months may miss significant change, and a period of time much more than three months can miss significant change that may have already taken place. There is NO substitute for establishing an accurate baseline and one single study cannot do this.