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

Xiaoli Yao 1 , Wen Wei 1 , Juanjuan Li 1 , Lijun Wang 1 , ZhiLiang Xu 1 , Yingwen Wan 1 , Kaiyang Li 2 , and Professor Shengrong Sun 3
  • 1 Department of Breast and Thyroid Surgery, Wuhan University ,Renmin Hospital, Wuhan 430060, Hubei Province, China
  • 2 School of Physics, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430060, Hubei Province, China
  • 3 Department of Breast and Thyroid Surgery, Wuhan University Renmin Hospital, Hubei 430060, China


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.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • 1. Boquete L, Ortega S, Miguel-Jimenez JM, Rodriguez- Ascariz JM, Blanco R. Automated detection of breast cancer in thermal infrared images, based on independent component analysis. J Med Syst. 2012; 36:103-11.

  • 2. Wishart GC, Campisi M, Boswell M, Chapman D, Shackleton V, Iddles S, et al. The accuracy of digital infrared imaging for breast cancer detection in women undergoing breast biopsy. Eur J Surg Oncol. 2010; 36: 535-40.

  • 3. Threatt B, Norbeck JM, Ullman NS, Kummer R, Roselle P. Thermography and breast cancer: an analysis of a blind reading. Annals N Y Acad Sci. 1980; 335:501-19.

  • 4. Foster KR. Thermographic detection of breast cancer. IEEE Eng Med Biol Mag. 1998; 17:10-4.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • 5. Lapayowker MS, Revesz G. Thermography and ultrasound in detection and diagnosis of breast cancer. Cancer. 1980; 46:933-8.

  • 6. Head JF, Wang F, Lipari CA, Elliott RL. The important role of infrared imaging in breast cancer. IEEE Eng Med Biol Mag. 2000; 19:52-7.

  • 7. Zhang H, Li KY, Sun SR. The value-exploration of the clinical breast diagnosis by using thermal tomography. Natural Computation, 2008. ICNC ’08. Fourth International Conference on Natural Computation. DOI: 10.1109/ICNC.2008.150

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • 8. Li KY, Dong YG, Chen C. The noninvasive reconstruction of 3D temperature field in a biological body with Monte Carlo method. Neurocomputing. 2008; 72: 128-33.

  • 9. Linos E, Spanos D, Rosner BA, Linos K, Hesketh T, Qu JD, et al. Effects of reproductive and demographic changes on breast cancer incidence in China: a modeling analysis. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2008; 100: 1352-60.

  • 10. American College of Radiology (ACR) Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System Atlas (BI-RADS Atlas). Reston, VA: American College of Radiology; 2003.

  • 11. World Health Organization classification of tumours. Pathology and genetics of tumours of the breast and female genital organs. Tavassoli FA, Devilee P, eds. Lyon: IARC Press, 2003.

  • 12. Arora N, Martins D, Ruggerio D, Tousimis E, Swistel AJ, Osborne MP, et al. Effectiveness of a noninvasive digital infrared thermal imaging system in the detection of breast cancer. Am J Surg. 2008; 196:523-6.

  • 13. Wang J, Chang KJ, Chen CY, Chien KL, Tsai YS, Wu YM, et al. Evaluation of the diagnostic performance of infrared imaging of the breast: a preliminary study. Biomed Eng Online. 2010; 9:3.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • 14. Kontos M, Wilson R, Fentiman I. Digital infrared thermal imaging (DITI) of breast lesions: sensitivity and specificity of detection of primary breast cancers. Clin Radiol. 2011; 66:536-9.


Journal + Issues