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Jennifer asked...

Nearly 73 and haven't had a mammogram...

I am nearly 73 and have not had a mammogram for a few years. I am interested in thermography as it sounds less invasive than the mammograms and wondered what your advice is on this score.

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The answer

Thank you for your question to Ask the Expert.

Diagnostic tests for breast cancer are continuously being researched and clinical trials are currently in progress.  The current screening programme is being expanded to include women between the age of 47 and 73 years and aims to detect cancers early before they are big enough to see or feel.  At the moment Mammography is considered to be the most accurate test and is done using Xrays.

Thermography is also referred to as Digital Infrared Imaging or Thermal Scanning. It is thought that the area around a cancer is warmer than healthy breast tissue due to the cells of a tumour being more active and therefore generating more heat.  Thermography can detect the location of these areas of increased heat.    However, research undertaken so far has shown insufficient evidence to prove Thermography to be a reliable screening test for breast cancer and, therefore, Mammography continues to be the diagnostic test used in the UK breast cancer screening programme.

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses

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