mom and daughter smallWhat is Digital Infrared Breast Imaging?

Digital Infrared Breast Imaging, or Breast Thermography, may be new information for you; therefore we have outlined the more
frequently asked questions below. Should you have any questions that are not addressed here or simply need more information, please call us at 775-622-1822

Breast Thermography is a non-invasive screening procedure that detects and records infrared heat emissions from the breast, which can aid in the early detection of abnormal changes in breast tissue.

The procedure is based on the principle that chemical and blood vessel activity in both pre-cancerous tissue and the surrounding tissue begin to shift the metabolism, thus producing thermal signals that show up on a thermography study. Since pre-cancerous and cancerous masses are highly metabolic tissues, they need an abundant supply of nutrients to maintain their growth. The cells release substances that stimulate the formation of new blood vessels (neoangiogenesis). This process results in an increase in surface temperatures of the breast.

Sierra Tahoe’s State-of-the-art breast thermography uses ultra-sensitive infrared detectors and sophisticated computers to detect, analyze, and produce high-resolution images of these temperature and vascular changes. The procedure is both comfortable and safe using no radiation, compression or contact. By carefully examining and monitoring the physiology of the breasts, signs of abnormities can be detected at the earliest stages. This provides for the earliest detection of abnormal breast tissue possible. Because of the extreme sensitivity of breast thermography, these temperature variations and vascular changes may be among the earliest signs of breast cancer and/or a pre-cancerous state of the breast. (back to top)

Is Thermography Different Than a Mammogram or Ultrasound?

Yes. Thermography detects changes or abnormalities in physiology that can show up in the future as a tumor, detectable on a mammogram.

Unlike mammography and ultrasound, thermography is a test of physiology, meaning it looks for functional changes in breast tissue which may indicate trouble years before a tumor can be detected by other means. It detects and records the infrared heat radiating from the surface of the breasts which is a reflection of underlying tissue physiology. It can help in early detection and monitoring of abnormal physiology and the establishment of risk factors for the future development of cancer.

Mammography and ultrasound are tests of anatomy. They look at structure. Think of it as looking at a “picture”-mammography vs. looking at a “movie”-thermography. When a tumor has grown to a size that is large enough and dense enough to block an x-ray beam (mammography) or sound wave (ultrasound), it produces an image that can be detected by a trained radiologist. Most cancers are detected by mammography when the diameter of the tumor has grown to the size of a dime and contains over 4 billion cells. (back to top)

Does Breast Thermography Replace a Mammogram?

When used as part of a multi-modal approach (thermography + clinical examination + mammography), 95-98% of early stage breast cancers can be detected. Becouse of the excessive amount of ionizing radiation associated with mammography we recommend the use of ultrasound and or MRI to be used in conjuction with Thermography(back to top)

Who Should Have a Thermogram?

Thermography can be utilized by all women, all shapes, all sizes and all ages. It is not limited by breast density and is ideal for women who have a family history of breast cancer, cosmetic or reconstructive surgery, women with large or small breasts, a history of fibrocystic breast disease, and women with dense breast tissue.(back to top)

When Should I Get my First Thermogram?

It is recommended that women begin thermography screenings at age 20. Since most women do not have a mammogram until age 40, there is a critical time period from ages 20 to 39 that thermography could be beneficial. The incidence of breast cancer in women under age 40 is on the rise. By beginning the screening process at age 20, we are able to establish a very normal baseline to which all future thermograms can be compared. Since thermography looks at how the breast is functioning, any change noted in your unique “thermal fingerprint” may be the first warning that something is going on. Also, the number one killer of women ages 29-45 years of age is breast cancer. A woman diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40 most likely had the cancer 10 years (age 30). Therefore, a baseline thermogram is recommended beginning at age 20. (back to top)

Can Thermography Diagnose Breast Cancer?

Neither mammography, ultrasound, nor thermography can diagnose cancer. Only a biopsy can definitely diagnose cancer. When used together, thermograms, mammograms, ultrasound and breast clinical examinations offer the best screening evaluations for a woman breast health.(back to top)

Is There a Hormone Imbalance in Your Breasts?

If a woman’s thermographic images suggest a relative estrogen dominance, treatment of this condition may play an important role in prevention. All of our reports give a Estrogen level in the interpretation. A woman can use this information and call Sierra Tahoe Wellness Center (775) 622-1822 to see if you might benefit from a consultation with Dr. Michael Nelson to review specific strategies to manage estrogen dominance.

If I Have A Suspicious Mammogram or I Find a Lump in my Breast, Should I Have a Thermogram?

Yes. The information provided by a thermography study can contribute useful additional information which ultimately helps your doctor with management decisions. It is also important to establish a baseline for future comparison in order to monitor changes and the progress of any treatment. (back to top)

What are the Guidelines for Thermography Screening?

One day there may be a single method for the early detection of breast cancer. Until then, using a combination of methods will increase your chances of detecting cancer in an early stage. These methods include:

  • Regular breast thermography for women of all ages, starting at age 20;
  • Mammography/Ultrasound, when appropriate, for women over 50;
  • A regular breast examination by a health professional;
  • Monthly breast self-examination;
  • Personal awareness for changes in the breasts. (back to top)

What Does the Procedure Involve?

Thermography is quick easy and painless. We provide you with a easy to follow instruction to follow before your study. The actual screening only takes a few minutes. Plan on taking 30 minutes from beginning to end during your appointment. Call today to schedule., click here.


How Much Does Breast Thermography Cost?

The Breast Themography costs $225 and takes about 30 minutes. Results are reviewed by a physician trained in the use and interpretation of thermographic images, and a report of findings is sent in approximately 14 days.

Payment by cash, check, or credit card is appreciated at the time of screening. (back to top)

How Do I Make an Appointment?

Appointments are available by calling 775-622-1822. You may also e-mail us at to top)

How Often Should Breast Thermography Be Done?

Annually for women 20 and over. More frequent intervals may be suggested for women with high risk thermograms in order to monitor them more closely or to follow improvements from treatment. (back to top)

Is This Procedure Covered by my Medical Insurance?

Each insurance company is different on there level of coverage. Please check with your individual carrier to get more information. Sierra Tahoe Wellness will provide you with the proper information to submit to your insurance company, however we do not bill insurance for our patients.