Australia – Thermography should not be relied on for early detection of breast cancer

The TGA is urging consumers not to rely on unproven breast imaging technologies, such as breast thermography, to detect breast cancer.

Breast thermography, also known as thermal breast imaging, is a non-invasive technique that uses an infrared camera to measure differences in temperature on or near the surface of the skin. The rationale for applying thermography to the detection of breast cancer is that the temperature of a cancer tumour is warmer due to its high blood flow and metabolism.

There is currently insufficient evidence to support the use of this technique in the early detection of breast cancer. Studies have shown that:

  • a tumour has to be large (several centimetres in diameter) before it can be detected by thermography
  • less than 50% of breast cancers detected by mammography screening have an abnormal thermogram.

The Australian Government Department of Health commissioned a literature review of emerging technologies, including thermography, in breast cancer screening. The final report, published in 2018, states that there appears to be clear acceptance that thermography will not have a role in future breast screening programs…