A comparison of mammography, ultrasonography, and far-infrared thermography with pathological results in screening and early diagnosis of breast cancer

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Background: Many breast-imaging techniques have been developed as primary clinical methods for identifying early-stage breast cancers and differentiating them from benign breast tumors. For the large population of China, any screening method that is rapid, economical, and accurate is worthy of evaluation.

Objective: To compare the effectiveness of mammography, color Doppler ultrasonography, and far-infrared thermography in the screening and early diagnosis of breast cancer.

Methods: Data from 2036 women with breast disease between January 2007 and May 2011 were included in this study. All patients underwent mammography, ultrasonography, and far-infrared thermography imaging. The diagnostic accuracy of the three methods was determined using postoperative pathological results as the diagnostic criterion standard.

Results: There were 480 patients found to have breast malignancies on pathological examination. The lesion diameter was <2 cm in 853 cases. Among them, breast cancer was found in 73 patients and carcinoma in situ in 22 patients. There was no difference in the accuracy of mammography and ultrasonography (96.1% versus 95.8%). However, there were significant differences between the accuracy of far-infrared thermography (97.1%) and ultrasonography and mammography. The sensitivity and specificity of far-infrared thermography was superior to that of mammography and ultrasonography in lesions <2 cm in diameter.

Conclusion: Far-infrared thermography is more accurate for breast cancer screening than ultrasonography and mammography for lesions <2 cm. It has comparable diagnostic accuracy to ultrasound and better diagnostic accuracy than mammography for lesions >2 cm in diameter.

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