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 Understanding Thermology Studies

The thermology reports are necessarily technical and written with specialized terms in order to convey precise information to health care professionals.  Every physician should be able to understand these terms and derive the full meaning of your report even if they are not familiar with breast thermology.  We encourage health care professionals to read the PROFESSIONALS section at for further information and speak with our staff (CONTACT US) with any questions.  As a laboratory, Therma-Scan can not directly consult with you as a patient and provide you any medical directions or information outside of what is contained in your actual breast thermology report.  There is no substitute for value you will receive by a direct consultation with your personal health care professional in reviewing the results of your breast thermology study.  We believe knowledge empowers you as an active partner in the management of your own health care and enables you to make the best choices.  We provide this information to help you understand your own thermology report but not as a substitute for consultation with your personal health care professional.

Medical infrared imaging is the process of obtaining highly detailed and sensitive infrared images of the human body.  The word thermology involves the diagnostic analysis of those images by a Board-Certified medical specialist using a scientific method.

  • Thermology is accepted by the US Dept of Health and Human Services as an adjunctive diagnostic procedure for 
    breast disease. 

  • Thermology is derived from more than fifty (50) years of extensive clinical development and has a sound basis in 
    medical science. 

  • Thermology evaluates tissue function and is distinctly different from structure-based diagnostic methods, such as X-ray mammography, MRI and ultrasound. 

Thermology does not replace these other diagnostic methods but rather they add to thermology’s diagnostic value and complement it as part of a comprehensive program.  Breast thermology is particularly effective in instances where X-ray mammography is compromised; such as in women who are not menopausal, have used hormone replacement therapy (HRT), have glandular or dense breasts, have fibrocystic disease, had prior biopsies, have implants or surgical reductions, are pregnant, are lactating or have small or large breasts.  Breast thermology has a very high (approximately 97%) sensitivity identifying the specific tissue features associated with breast cancer.  A normal thermology report does not eliminate all possibility of breast cancer and atypical or abnormal results of other means of evaluation should not be disregarded. 

The diagnostic power of thermology can be diminished by tissue inflammation, infection or hormone imbalances.  The presence of these conditions can cause false-positive findings, especially on initial studies of an individual.  Over time and with repeated studies, thermology can usually distinguish non-cancerous conditions from evolving breast cancer.  A questionable thermology feature will resolve, demonstrate stability or evolve to reveal thermology features distinctive of breast cancer.  False-negative errors are rare and usually a consequence of a latent (resting, non-active) stage in the development of breast cancer.  The internationally standardized thermology classification (Marseille System) defines five (5) conventional and distinct reporting categories, ranging from TH-1 (normal) through TH-5 (severely abnormal) and two (2) specialized reporting categories; TH-0 (incomplete or technically defective) and TH-6 (evaluating thermology features in cases of biopsy-proven cancer). 

These numbers DO NOT relate to the classification system used to stage breast cancer.

Thermology Classifications (Marseille System)

BI-RADS® is a registered trademark of the The American College of Radiology

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