Browse answers to common questions about thermography.
Who is breast thermography for?
Breast thermography is for the woman who does not want to be surprised with a breast cancer diagnosis…. For the woman who desires to monitor her breast health and be preventative and pro-active with her health. Breast thermography is also for women who cannot have mammograms due to implants or mastectomies or who are pregnant or lactating. It is for women for whom mammograms are not helpful: those with dense breast tissue.
Is thermography only for the breasts?..... what about the rest of the body?
Once again, beware of what the internet tells you. There is an assumption going around that because thermography is helpful for early detection of breast cancer that it can detect cancer anywhere in the body. That is not true.
However, depending on the equipment used, medical thermography can also be useful for the rest of the body. It is dependent upon the equipment. Each piece of medical equipment is FDA-approved for different purposes and levels of use.
BodyLife Imaging uses the top equipment in the medical thermography field, with the most detailed FDA approval available, making it approved and useful for the assessment and monitoring of many health conditions. Therefore we are approved to do imaging for full body, half body, and target areas.
When should women start getting breast thermograms?
Considering that 20% of breast cancers occur in women under the age of 45, and breast cancers are almost always more aggressive in younger women, it is recommended that women age 20 start making breast thermography a part of their woman’s self health care protocol. A personal baseline can then be established, and then if things go awry, those changes can be noted early and nipped in the bud. Prevention and pro-activity are powerful.
How often should I get a thermogram?
It is recommended that women 20-30 years old get a thermogram every 3 years and those over 30, every year. Following this schedule is an easy way to monitor one’s breast health and catch a change early.
-If your report shows your breasts are healthy and at low risk for breast cancer, then it will be recommended to have your next thermogram in 12-36 months, depending on age.
-If your report indicates a medium to high risk situation then it will be recommended to take steps to improve your breast health and return for a thermogram in another 3-6 months in order to monitor any developments.
There are many things we can do to improve our breast health. Pro-activity is powerful and thermography is an insightful tool that can be used to monitor one’s breast health.
We no longer need to wonder if what we are doing is effective.
Will insurance cover my appointment?
Insurance companies standardly do not offer compensation for thermography at this point in time. However some possibilities for coverage may be a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Savings Account (FSA). You may also be eligible for reimbursement through the United Breast Cancer Foundation. It never hurts to try out these options if your insurance does not cover thermography. Looking on the bright side, because insurance is not involved we are able to keep the costs at a fraction of the price… and no doctor referral is needed. The decision is left in the hands of the individual.
What is the cost?
Appointments vary per imaging series. At BodyLife Imaging the price includes the images taken with our top technology equipment, the images sent to a Board Certified Breast Thermologist, and your images and reports sent to you and any healthcare provider of your choice.
BodyLife Imaging strives to provide excellence in thermal imaging at an affordable price. See our list of services & pricing here.
So if I get thermograms will I never have to get mammograms again?
Not necessarily. Thermograms, mammograms, ultrasounds, and MRI’s are all different technologies that each serve a different purpose, for a different time in one’s health (see this helpful article on our blog).
A thermogram is excellent at detecting a physiological problem in process or starting. If your thermogram shows that there is a high risk that a breast cancer is present or growing then it will be recommended that you employ the help of a technology that will then look to see if a structure (lump) can be found. This would be a mammogram or an ultrasound.
What if I already check my breasts for lumps and get mammograms occasionally? … would a thermogram still be helpful?
Definitely yes. And once you understand what a thermogram does you’ll understand why.
A self breast check and a mammogram are both looking for lumps, or “structures”. The lump has to be about the size of a green pea in order to be found by these methods. Considering that cancer cells double on average every 90 days, it takes about 8 years to grow to that findable size.
A thermogram is a different technique. It uses infrared technology, reading the infrared heat naturally coming off of the body. It is not looking for a structure (or lump) but looking for abnormal heat patterns and abnormal vascularity patterns indicating a physiological malfunction. This is how a thermogram can detect a problem in progress or starting, years before it may become a lump big enough to be found by other methods. And with most diseases, early detection is key. The earlier you find a problem, the more options you have for a successful recovery. The idea is: Catch it early before it becomes a bigger problem.
Why doesn’t my doctor know about medical thermography?
Unlike Europe, the UK, New Zealand, and many other countries, doctors in the USA are not taught about thermography while training to become a physician, and therefore they may not know about this technology or the advances in the past 40 years. Most other medically advanced countries embrace thermography and medical applications of infrared science.
What should I expect at my thermogram appointment?
At BodyLife Imaging, we are firm believers in patient education and knowledge. In addition to taking the imaging series of your choice, your first appointment at BodyLife Imaging will include an exclusive consultation about thermography, and if yours is a breast thermography appointment this will include information about monitoring one’s breast health. We will also go over what to expect from your report.
We will then go over your paperwork and answer any questions you may have. From there you will be brought to the imaging room where you will spend 15 minutes alone and partially disrobed so your body can acclimate to the temperature of the room. This is imperative for accurate imaging. After the acclimation time, our certified Clinical Thermography Technician will join you in the room and take your image series.
Once again, thermography imaging involves no body contact or radiation. BodyLife takes great care in providing you with as much privacy as possible.
Once you are dressed we will show you your images and answer any questions you may have.
Where will my thermal imaging take place?
For the best quality thermal imaging experience, your imaging appointment will take place at one of BodyLife’s approved clinics. Quality control is imperative for accurate imaging results and a big part of that is using a room that meets specific quality control requirements. Our clinic locations are set up to take the best quality images for accuracy in thermal imaging.
How long does the appointment take?
Appointment times vary per imaging series. Most imaging series take approximately 1 hour with the Full Body series taking about 90 minutes. First time appointments include a 20-30 minute education consultation time, with following appointments taking less time.
BodyLife can give you an estimate of the time expected when scheduling your appointment.
What happens to my images?
After your appointment we will send your images to one of our contracted Board Certified Breast Thermologists. These are doctors who have had further advanced training in full body and breast thermology….experts in the field.
The thermologist will study your images and write a report.
BodyLife will then send your images and report to you and the health care providers you have requested to receive the results.
We will keep copies of each to further serve you.
How long does it take to receive my results?
In most cases you should receive your results within 1 week of your appointment. Although times may vary depending on certain factors.
For an additional fee, 48 hour RUSH service is also available.
Is there anything I need to do to prepare for my thermography appointment?
Yes. In order for your imaging to be accurate it is imperative that you follow the Patient Pre-Imaging Protocol. These are research tested protocols that have been put in place by Thermology associations worldwide to ensure the most accurate imaging results possible. If these protocols are not followed the imaging is at risk of not being accurate. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.
How do I make an appointment? Can I schedule online?
Give us a call! To best serve you, we do not offer online scheduling. Appointments are scheduled on the phone so we can make sure the best imaging series and appointment time are set for you.
In order for imaging to be accurate it is imperative that quality control standards are met and part of that is choosing an imaging time that will not have conflicts prior. We’ll quickly walk you thru that, or you can also check out the document Patient Pre-Imaging Protocol.
We’ll then send you a confirmation email with appointment time, address of our clinic, and any documents you need.
No email? … No worries! We are happy to mail you your confirmation.
After my initial thermogram, do I need to come back in 3 months for an additional thermogram to establish my baseline?
No, if taken correctly and with the most up-to-date equipment your baseline can be established with your first appointment. BodyLife Imaging uses the most up-to-date equipment in the medical thermography field today. Only those with high risk imaging results are recommended to come back in 3 months.
Accuracy & Safety
Why are some thermal images in black and white and others in color?
Good question! The most advanced medical thermography equipment will take the images in high-resolution greyscale (black & white) and then via computer software turn the images into various color palettes when studied. The advantage to taking the images in greyscale is that you get a higher resolution image providing more detail and more elements of information.
Think of it as a charcoal drawing with detail compared to a crayon drawing. The greyscale images allow for vascularity to be studied as well as possible hormone imbalance. The color images show predominantly heat patterns. The main point is that you want a high-resolution images in order to show the most information possible.
At BodyLife Imaging we use the most advanced equipment in the medical thermography field, with the highest-detailed FDA approval for use.
Is thermography safe if I have breast implants or a history of breast surgery?
Absolutely! In fact, thermography is the most ideal screening method for those with implants, reductions, lumpectomy, mastectomy, or other breast surgeries. Because it uses no body contact and is radiation-free, accurate images can safely be taken regardless of your breast history.
Are there any risks with the imaging procedure?
One of the most attractive things about thermography is that it is completely painless, non-invasive, and radiation-free. Thermography is a safe risk-free addition to your preventative and pro-active self care protocol.
What about false-positives? The internet says….
The internet says a lot of things, doesn’t it? The notion of “false-positives” is based on the assumption that the tool is going to diagnose cancer. Thermography is not a diagnostic tool. Neither is mammography or ultrasounds.
Thermography is a tool to assess the risk that there is a cancer there or growing…. Basically, how healthy/unhealthy is this breast?
Mammography is a tool for the purpose of looking for a lump… or, can a lump be found yet?
An ultrasound also looks to see if a lump can be found yet… and is that lump solid or liquid?
A biopsy is the only tool that can diagnose….. Are these cells cancerous or not cancerous?