Deena from Mackay, Queensland, Australia asked:

Do mammograms cause breast cancer?

Thermography in screening for breast cancer

I read an article online that said the radiation in mammograms can actually increase your risk of cancer and it's natural and safer to use thermography. Is this true?

The source:
Our answer

There have been claims that because mammograms use radiation, they increase the risk of breast cancer. However, the amount of radiation you are exposed to during a mammogram is very small – estimated to be about the same as you would receive over a few months of normal “background” radiation (the radiation we are exposed to every day in normal life) or on a flight from Australia to London and back. Thermography is a different technique that measures the slightest variations in temperature of soft tissue in the body using infrared heat sensors, producing “heat pictures” of a body part such as a breast. The use of thermography in cancer detection is based on the concept that cancer gives off more heat than normal tissue. But not all cancers give off heat, and of those that do, some are too deep, or located under wedges of fat, so the heat does not register. There is no current scientific evidence to support the use of thermography as a method for 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. Screening mammograms have the ability to detect breast cancer at a much smaller size. Less than 50% of breast cancers detected by mammography screening have an abnormal thermogram. Cancer Council Australia, BreastScreen Australia and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists all recommend mammography – and do not recommend the use of thermography – for early detection of breast cancer.

This page was last updated on: June 23, 2014

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