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Every year, more and more women are being diagnosed with breast cancer, one of the most common cancers among women. Like all other cancers, early detection can lead to more effective treatment and a positive prognosis.

The month of October is dedicated to creating awareness about breast cancer, to encourage everyone to look after their health and wellbeing as well as offering information and support to those affected by the disease.

Breast cancer is caused by the development of malignant cells in the breast. Abnormal cells sometimes divide in an uncontrolled manner, forming a mass of extra tissue known as a tumour. Tumours can be benign, which means the cells do not spread to other parts of the body and can usually be removed. Malignant or cancerous tumour cells can invade nearby tissues and break away from the primary tumour, forming secondary tumours (metastases) in other parts of the body.
The two main categories of breast cancer are lobular and ductal carcinomas. The DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) is no longer classified as a threat as it is encapsulated. It does however, need to be monitored.

Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms are not obvious in the early stages, which is why it is essential that all women go for regular screenings.
Know your body and examine your breasts frequently so that you will pick up any irregularities immediately.
The most common sign of breast cancer is a new lump or mass.
The lump may be painless, hard with uneven edges or tender, soft and rounded.

Other signs of breast cancer include the following:
Pain in the nipple or breast
Change in the appearance of the shape or dimpling 
Unusual nipple discharge
Inverted nipple
A lump or swelling under the arm
Swelling of all or part of the breast


Early Detection Can Save Your Life
The earlier cancer is found the better the chances of a cure.
All women, from age 20 and upward are urged to do regular, monthly self-examinations, which involves feeling the breasts for any abnormal lumps or pain.

Thermography is the ideal screening modality as there is no radiation and the breast is not compressed which makes it ideal for all ages, dense breasts, breasts with implants and even during pregnancy or whilst breast feeding.
There has been a 30% increase in breast cancer in women under the age of 40, whos breasts are generally denser and which mammography acknowledges they are not very good with.

A Thermoscan may find cancers at least 6 years before they can be picked up by a mammogram. Thermography doesnt replace mammography and it doesnt diagnose cancer. It must be remembered that none of the screening modalities actually diagnose cancer and that thermography works alongside mammography, ultrasound and MRI, which combined have a 98% success rate of detection.

Thermal imaging uses increased blood flow to the cancers and measures heat emissions from the body to find abnormal growth. These changes occur before the tumour is large enough to be detected by a mammogram, so life saving treatment can start much earlier. Changes detected will also alert the patient very early on of any further testing or monitoring that should be done.

Medical advances mean that there are now a range of options for those diagnosed with breast cancer including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy and targeted therapies, which may be combined with complimentary and holistic medicine.
However, choosing a treatment option is largely dependent on the stage of cancer followed by your age and health. Nutritional and lifestyle changes, whilst be monitored by Thermoscans will go a long way to prevent a re-occurrence.


Marcelle Southey is an IACT Certified Thermographic Technician and owner of ThermoScan.
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